Lake Forest College senior offensive lineman Tom Steen is one of 181 semifinalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments®. Sponsored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF), the award is college football's premier scholar-athlete recognition.
Steen has been the Foresters' starting right tackle since the beginning of his sophomore season. He was a Second Team All-Midwest Conference South Division selection in 2015 and has earned Academic All-MWC honors each of the last two years. He helped lead the offense to program records with 38.6 points and 439.9 yards per game last season and the 2017 squad is on pace to shatter those marks. Steen was voted a team captain as a junior and senior.
Lake Forest has won each of its four games so far this season and is 20-14 in Steen's four years on the team.
A double-major in psychology and neuroscience, Steen carries a cumulative grade point average of 3.36. He is involved as a peer tutor and currently serves as the President of the Executive Board for Lake Forest College Relay for Life, one of the premier events on campus each year. Steen has a special place in his heart for children and has been one of the leaders of the football team in its relationship with Team Impact adoptee Brannon and at its annual Woodlands Elementary School Play Day.
"Tom is a rarity in that he exemplifies excellence on the field, succeeds in the classroom, and is extremely engaged in our campus community," began Lake Forest College Head Football Coach Jim Catanzaro. "He has been a tremendous player at right tackle, a position he did not play in high school. A tenacious blocker but a gentlemen of sport, Tom is depended upon to be the rock of his position group and he has consistently delivered in that role. Off the field, Tom sets the standard for all of our athletes to achieve more than the course work requires. He has taken his academic exploits to the highest levels of undergraduate interaction and has now moved beyond to the graduate school levels. The respect he has earned from his peers and his ability to capture a moment for his teammates to focus on is truly unique."
Steen has also drawn praise from professors at the College. "In my mind, Tom is the ideal liberal arts undergraduate scholar," explained chair of the biology department and member of the neuroscience program Shubhik K. DebBurman, PhD. "He combines intellectual engagement in the classroom and scholarly curiosity in the research lab with a passion for excellence in the athletic field and committed leadership and service on and off-campus. I have been struck by his infectious enthusiasm for his studies and leadership in lab projects. At the Chicago Society for Neuroscience conference last spring, in a standing-room-only seminar hall, after the internationally-noted keynote speaker authoritatively spoke on the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among football players, Tom fearlessly went to the microphone and engaged with the speaker with humor, grace, and knowledge. Tom exemplified our science training at its best—to engage critical thinking and to confidently ask thoughtful questions."
Steen shares his skills as a writer and speaker in his role as a tutor on campus. "Tom is a valued Writing Center tutor," noted Dawn Abt-Perkins, Ph.D., a Professor of Education and the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Success at the College. "His peers/clients are loyal and seek him out for his expertise in writing, his mentorship skills, and his ability to connect to their experience and feelings. He is able to connect in these ways with a wide range of the student body, including students with whom, on the surface, he has very little in common. Tom's energy, focus, and commitment to those who depend on him to lead seems to be without limits. He is always available and present in his work, traits which I attribute this to his athletic training. When he is in the Writing Center, it is "game on" for him. Tom is a leader among the tutors, as well. They see his steadfast positive spirit, his desire to continually reflect and improve his own practice, and his commitment to his clients, and they want to be like him."
Steen is among 181 semifinalists overall and one of 33 from the NCAA Division III level. The National Football Foundation will select 12-14 finalists for the award with each receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.
"These 181 impressive candidates truly represent the scholar-athlete ideal," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning whose sons Peyton (Campbell Trophy® winner) and Eli were named NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. "It is important for us to showcase their success on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. This year's semifinalists further illustrate the power of our great sport in developing the next generation of influential leaders."
Named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, former chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF's Gold Medal, the Campbell Trophy® is a 25-pound bronze trophy and increases the amount of the recipient's grant by $7,000 for a total postgraduate scholarship of $25,000, which is endowed by HealthSouth. This year's postgraduate scholarships will push the program's all-time distribution to more than $11.3 million. Since 2013, the Campbell Trophy® has been prominently displayed inside its official home at the New York Athletic Club.
"The NFF would like to personally congratulate each of the nominees as well as their schools and coaches on their tremendous accomplishments," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "We are extremely proud to highlight each semifinalist's achievements, showcasing their ability to balance academics and athletics at the highest level. The NFF Awards Committee will have an incredibly difficult task in selecting the finalists from this outstanding group of candidates."
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.