Recent Case Western Reserve University graduate and former men's tennis player C.J. Krimbill was selected to receive the NCAA Today's Top 10 Award, recognizing former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The 10 recipients, selected from all three NCAA divisions, completed their athletics eligibility during the 2015-16 academic year and will be recognized at the Honors Celebration during the NCAA Convention, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee in January.
Krimbill becomes the first athlete in Case Western Reserve University history to win the honor, one of the most prestigious awards combining athletics, academics and community service that can be presented to an NCAA athlete. The NCAA Today's Top 10 Award has been presented annually since 1973, with past winners including numerous student-athletes that would go on to become household names, such as Archie Griffin, John Elway, Steve Young, Cheryl Miller, David Robinson, and Drew Brees, among others.
In addition, Krimbill is the first men's tennis player ever to be selected to win the award (among all three NCAA divisions), and the first male athlete from the University Athletic Association to claim the honor.
"I am honored to have been chosen to represent the University and student athletes across the country," said Krimbill. "This means a great deal to all those who have supported me throughout my time at Case Western Reserve and my upbringing beforehand, including my parents, Coach Todd, teammates, friends, and the athletic department. All of the effort and passion from those who supported both the team and I is being recognized by this award. I will cherish this, along with many wonderful memories from my four years."
Krimbill graduated from Case Western Reserve in May as the most accomplished tennis player in the program's history. In 2016, he teamed with senior Louis Stuerke to reach the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Doubles Championships, as the duo ended the year ranked third in Division III. He also made it to the round of 16 of the NCAA singles draw, and was ranked 11th in the final Oracle/ ITA National Poll. Krimbill set school single-season records for singles and doubles wins during the year, going 30-6 individually and 33-6 in doubles play.
Krimbill earned All-American honors for his singles and doubles play during the year, and ended his career as a four-time singles All-American and a three-time doubles All-American. He was the 2015 UAA Most Valuable Player, and is the only player in CWRU history to earn All-UAA singles recognition all four years of his career, including a second team berth this year. He is a three-time All-UAA doubles honoree as well, claiming a spot on the first team with Stuerke earlier this season, while his efforts helped lead the Spartans to the only three NCAA Team Championship berths in the program's history. Krimbill finished his career with as the program's all-time leader in singles (107-31) and doubles (123-30) wins and is one of just two players in UAA history with at least 200 combined career wins.
"C.J. is an outstanding young man, who represents the ideal of everything we would like to see from the student-athletes in the program, both on and off the court," said CWRU Head Men's Tennis Coach Todd Wojtkowski. "Not only was he the most accomplished player in the history of the men's tennis program at Case Western Reserve, but his leadership helped to elevate the play of those around him. When you combine that with his success in the classroom and his work in the community, you get a truly special individual. I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this prestigious honor than C.J."
Krimbill was a standout academically as well during his time at CWRU, graduating in 2016 with a 3.94 cumulative grade point average as a Chemical Engineering major. He received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in July, and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team last season, the second Academic All-America honor of his career. Krimbill was a three-time UAA Presidents Scholar-Athlete Team selection as well.
Krimbill was also an active member of the community, participating in a number of service projects, including working with the Urban Garden Development, volunteering as a tutor in both mathematics and tennis, and taking a mission trip to Germany in 2016. Since his graduation in May, he has worked as a Project Engineer at Avery-Dennison in Cleveland.
"C.J. Krimbill represents the very best of the term 'student-athlete' - a superb athlete, an exceptional student and a tremendous citizen of Case Western Reserve University," said Case Western Reserve Director of Athletics Amy Backus. "It was a joy to watch him compete for our men's tennis team as he was a fierce competitor, yet humble in his many victories. We congratulate C.J. on this distinguished award. Making it all the more special is that C.J. is the very first men's tennis player in any division to be honored with the NCAA Today's Top 10 Award."
Krimbill was one of three NCAA Division III Athletes selected as a Today's Top 10 Awardee this year, along with Emory University's Elizabeth Aronoff and Logan Andryk of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Other honorees include current Dallas Cowboy and former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Kendall Coyne of Northeastern, Taylor Ellis-Watson of Arkansas, Nicole Hensley of Lindenwood, Haylie McCleney of Alabama, Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina and Jason Vander Laan of Ferris State.
The NCAA Honors Committee, which selects the honorees, is comprised of representatives from member schools and conferences, as well as nationally distinguished former college athletes. Before 2013, the award recognized eight student-athletes and was known as Today's Top VIII. The NCAA Honors Committee expanded the award to include 10 honorees to recognize the growing number of college athletes, sports and championship opportunities.