Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Performing with distinction, carrying the leadership mantle, excelling academically as well as athletically.
Cassie Breen and Joe Ostman epitomize the Dick Enberg Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, as does the Central Michigan women’s basketball team.
All three will be introduced Saturday during the CMU-Miami (Ohio) football game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Ostman and Breen as the Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award winners, and coach Sue Guevara’s team as the Dick Enberg Team Leadership Award winner.
Ostman is a senior captain of the Chippewa football team, while Breen is a senior guard on the women’s basketball team.
It marks the first time in the 11-year history of the awards, named in honor of CMU’s most famous alum and man for whom the Dick Enberg Academic Center is named, that a member of the women’s basketball team and a member of the football team have claimed the prestigious honor. Likewise for the women’s basketball team.
“This team has done an outstanding job in the community,” said Guevara, who is in her 11th year at the helm of the women’s basketball program. “Our kids are personable, they care, they’re genuine. I have a really nice team of young women. It’s a really cohesive group that works well together on and off the court.”
The Team Leadership Award is presented to a Chippewa program that best meets five criteria: overall grade-point average, academic progress rate, community service, athletic performance and commitment to excellence.
Last season, Guevara led CMU to its first regular-season Mid-American Conference women’s basketball championship since 1985. The Chippewas’ off-court accomplishments are equally, if not more, impressive. Among them is their Hoops for Hunger and Pack the Pantry efforts, their Diaper Dandy Game, participation in the likes of Special Olympics and March is Reading Month, and their drive to collect bottled water for Flint residents.
Ostman, who carries a 3.68 grade point average, hails from Mackinaw City, which is located at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. A defensive end, he has been among CMU’s leaders on the defensive side of the ball since arriving on campus in 2013. He was named CMU’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year and earned Second Team All-MAC honors in 2016.
“It’s a huge honor,” said Ostman, a general management major who has twice been named Academic All-MAC and is also a MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete. “Definitely not something I was expecting. To be recognized with an award named after Dick Enberg, one of the all-time CMU greats and the fact that my peers and the people around me have selected me for that award is extremely humbling and a huge honor. And I’m very thankful.”
Off the field, Ostman has been involved with the likes of Special Olympics, food drives, March is Reading Month, and the team’s efforts to remodel and spruce up Eagle Village in Hersey.
“It’s not just me, but my teammates and our coaches are really involved with all of that as well,” he said. “On a personal level it just feels good to give back when you get a chance. Life can happen fast with school and football, but it’s important to remember that and make a point to give back. The impact that you can have on a Special Olympian, or kids in an elementary school, it’s so much bigger than most people realize.”
Breen, who carries a 3.61 GPA and is working toward a double major in psychology and sport management, has developed into a steadying force on the court, appearing in 93 games – 76 of them starts – and averaging 10.7 points per game in her career.
She has twice been named Academic All-MAC, and has taken on a lead role in all the charitable and community involvement in which the women’s basketball team is involved.
“It’s a great honor to be considered for the award and having won it and to be able to share it with a great person like Joey Ostman,” said Breen, a native of suburban Detroit’s Woodhaven. “It’s an honor for both of us, and for the award to carry Dick Enberg’s name – he is such a big part of Central Michigan, the athletic program, the university, the community as a whole.
“I’m honored to have been considered for it, and for my teammates and coaches and me to receive the Team Leadership Award … They’ve helped make me the person that am since the day that I stepped on campus. Without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Breen, Guevara said, has become a leader in the program, both on the court and off, and her selflessness and team-first attitude has been critical to a program that has won 45 and lost just 20 over the past two seasons.
“She is the unsung player on our team,” Guevara said. “Cassie is one of those who does the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet, but show up in my mind. She is the ultimate in sacrifice, she’s going to sacrifice her body. She took more charges last year than the rest of the entire team combined.
“She’s always looking out for her teammates, always wants to do the right thing. Always. She’s very disciplined when it comes to being in the classroom, and she does things to the highest level of her capabilities. She is steady, she is solid, and I can really count on her. It’s a tremendous honor for Cass.”