When Greg Malen received a phone call from Gordon Morton, director of communications for the Eastern College Athletic Conference, to inform him he was just named Division II Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the overwhelmed second baseman responded with a casual, “Very cool.”
“It was so unexpected I wasn’t really sure what was happening,” said Malen. “I didn’t hear from them until July 22, so I assumed all the postseason awards had been named. It was a pleasant surprise for me.”
Later that night, Malen said head coach Tim Shea called him to let him know of the honor just in case he had not already been informed.
“He told me it was a great honor and that he was really proud,” said Malen.
Besides posting up a 3.77 GPA, the second baseman hit for a .315 batting average, drove in 18 runs and ended the 2010 season with a .387 on-base percentage in his last year before graduating with a degree in marketing.
He led the baseball Owls to a Northeast-10 Conference regular season title before losing in the finals of
the NCAA East Regional.
Despite the successful season, Malen said it simply was not enough.
“I would give up every personal accolade I received to win the regional,” he said.
After the season, he said he was reminded of how close the team was when he sent out text messages to everyone congratulating them for a successful year.
“The response I got back was so overwhelming,” said Malen. “It really let me appreciate how special the team was and I know accolades or no accolades, my teammates respect what I did for the team this past season.”
Former teammate, junior pitcher Chris Zbin, said he can attest to that.
“Greg definitely worked hard and deserved that award and it is a really great award to win,” said Zbin. “I was definitely happy for him.”
He was not alone as other players also said they appreciated his contribution to the team.
“Good for him,” said sophomore pitcher Tyler Albrecht. “He’s a great guy and I really enjoyed being his teammate.”
Now that Malen has graduated, he said he no longer plays baseball competitively and probably never will. If he were ever on a baseball diamond wearing a uniform again, he said he would love for it to be as a coach.
“I have stated previously that I will never step on a baseball field as a player ever again, and I plan to follow through,” he said. “My career (at Southern) ended with a great team and I can’t imagine ever topping that.”
For now, Malen is a full-time member of the “real world,” working as an analyst for Nielson in New York City.
He will be presented the award at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Honors Banquet on Sept. 28 in Hyannis, Mass.
Even though his days as an Owl are gone, Malen said he still remains optimistic for the future of the team, and still sees their potential and hopes they go beyond what they did last season.
“I know the 2011 team has what it takes to win the conference, regionals, and even make a run for a national title,” said Malen. “I truly hope they understand what they are capable of and play up to their abilities each and every game.”