Morton College men’s soccer team receives NJCAA Sportsmanship Award

The Morton College men’s soccer team picked up plenty of honors during its magical 2015 season.

The biggest one came recently when the Panthers earned the Sportsmanship Award at the NJCAA Division I Men’s Soccer National Tournament. The Sportsmanship Award goes to the team judged by the tournament committee to be the most sportsmanlike in the tournament.

“To me, this is like winning the national championship,” Morton College men’s soccer coach Juan Franco said. “I am so proud of my team and the way they represented Morton College at the national tournament.”

Franco received the Region IV Coach of the Year honors for leading the Panthers to back-to-back Region IV titles and the program’s first appearance at the NJCAA Division I men’s soccer national tournament. The Panthers finished 14-7-1 and were ranked 19th nationally in the final poll.

Franco has been the program’s only coach since men’s soccer became an intercollegiate sport in 1998. The Cicero resident’s career record at Morton College is 214-112-33 and he has had just two losing seasons in those 18 years.

“There’s a reason why Juan has been coaching here for 18 years,” Morton College athletic director Billy Jacklin said. “He’s a good coach and an even better person. The team is a direct reflection of him, no doubt about it.”

Justin Shimko

Justin Shimko is an award-winning writer and political analyst. He began as a reporter in his college days at the University of Oklahoma, writing for The Oklahoma Daily (rated as one of the best collegiate newspapers in the nation) and The Oklahoman, the statewide newspaper, winning awards from the CSPA and the Society of Professional Journalists. He later moved on to research and writing work for a number of political campaigns. His email is [email protected]