For nearly 100 years, the Patterson Medal has been given to North Carolina athletes based on their career athletic achievements, sportsmanship and leadership. For the 2019-20 year, UNC men's tennis standout William Blumberg and field hockey captain Marissa Creatore each earned a spot on the long list of recipients.
Blumberg was named the 2020 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men's Senior Player of the Year and is one of only three men's college players in ITA history to be named an eight-time All American. He won the honors in both singles and doubles competition in all four years of his time with the Tar Heels.
UNC men's tennis head coach Sam Paul said adding Blumberg’s name to the list was an impressive accomplishment for the program.
“It’s an incredible group to be among, so it means a lot to our program,” Paul said. “It’s the elite of the elite. We know there are so many great athletes here at North Carolina, so it’s a tremendous honor.”
Blumberg spoke about the lore surrounding names of past recipients and the honor of winning an award he's had his eye on since his first year at UNC.
“When I came freshman year, I learned about the Patterson Medal. I knew it was a big thing,” Blumberg said. “I always made it a goal of mine to try and win it, so to do that my senior year and have that honor given to me by the athletic department just meant a lot and was really something special.”
In addition to the Patterson Medal, Blumberg and Creatore were also the recipients of the 2019-20 Mildred McCaskill Award for outstanding academics, athletics and community outreach at UNC.
Creatore co-captained the North Carolina field hockey team to a 46-0 record and two NCAA championships in her last two years with the program. She was the 2019 ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player, a third-team All-America selection and a second-team All-ACC selection in her final season.
A three-time Academic All-ACC honoree from 2017 to 2019, Creatore saw success on the field and in the classroom. She was also selected to be a Tar Heel Leader of Distinction by the Richard A. Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy this year.
The former field hockey leader started her UNC career as an invited walk-on and redshirted her first season after not seeing much playing time. She gradually received more playing time as the seasons progressed and blossomed into a consistent starting forward by 2017.
Creatore said not being heavily recruited out of East Chapel Hill High School and her journey from a bench role to co-captain made this award special to her.
“I was shaking just because I definitely came from a different background. I wasn’t someone who came into UNC as a huge recruit, and no one ever expected that kind of accomplishment from me,” Creatore said. “I think it surprised me so much to even be given the honor of representing Carolina by winning that award.”
North Carolina field hockey head coach Karen Shelton echoed Creatore's sentiment when she praised the former Tar Heel.
“As a coach, it’s really rewarding because anyone can take the best recruit in the country and help them rise to the top,” Shelton said. “When you take a kid that’s unheralded, who no one was recruiting and you help them in so many different ways rise to the very top — and in this case, she rose to the very top of all the senior athletes at Carolina and that’s not easy — that’s a spectacular achievement.”
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