June 6, 2013

Salisbury's Nieves Earns CAC Medal of Inspiration

from press release

YORK, Pa. – Salisbury University sophomore Alex Nieves has been named one of the inaugural recipients of the Capital Athletic Conference's Medal of Inspiration, the league announced on Wednesday.

Replacing the CAC's Unsung Hero Award, the Capital Athletic Conference Medal of Inspiration is awarded to persons from the CAC who have persevered through extraordinary circumstances and whose determination, devotion and passion are exemplary, revered among their peers and worthy of special recognition.

Annually, Capital Athletic Conference institutions may nominate candidates for this honor. The Senior Woman Administrators from all Capital Athletic Conference schools will review nominations and determine recipients with the charge of bestowing this medal upon only the most-deserving individuals.

In any given year, there is neither a requirement that the Capital Athletic Conference Medal of Inspiration be awarded, nor a limit as to the number of people who may receive the medal. However, no person shall be recognized with the award more than once.

The CAC honor is just the icing on the cake of a life that Nieves fought for during a two-year battle with Leukemia. The Centreville, Va., native played the 2010 season as a highly touted freshman, participating in each of the team's 23 games, including the national championship game, while notching 10 points on four goals and six assists.

Though Salisbury did not win the title in 2010, the table was set with the Nieves ready to return in 2011, along with a talented core of players – but fate intervened.

Nieves woke up in December of 2010 with a severely swollen leg and in a lot of pain. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Leukemia, beginning his first round of chemotherapy almost instantly. The battle with the disease went on for two years, with instances where Nieves' doctors were not sure if he would make it through the night.

The team, doing all it could to help their teammate, created the Lax for Leukemia game, which was held for the first time in 2011, raising more than $14,000 for the cause.

Despite still being very weak, Nieves was in attendance with the Sea Gulls when they won the 2011 national championship in Baltimore. He was on the field as the final horn sounded and his teammates lifted their sick teammate above their shoulders as much as the national championship trophy itself.

Nieves continued his fight and was able to return to the field for the 2013 season. Nieves saw time in 17 of the Sea Gulls' 23 games this past season and helped the team to the NCAA tournament semifinal round. In an emotional scene, Nieves tallied his only goal of the year during the third-annual Lax for Leukemia game, before coming to the sideline for a long embrace with Head Coach Jim Berkman and many other members of the coaching staff and roster.

While it was not the final moment of the season, it was the most emotional and perhaps the crowning moment of Alex Nieves' return to the lacrosse field after fighting for his life.

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