Fifth-year redshirt senior and graduate student Mike Casey is one of 30 male NCAA Division I senior athletes named as a candidate for the Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School (CLASS) award.

In order to be deemed eligible for the award, the student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have compelling accomplishments in four areas of distinction: community, classroom, character and competition.

“It’s an honor to be considered for such an award,” Casey said. “Not to be modest I think there’s a lot of guys out there who deserve the nod over me. I’ve had my up’s and down’s with injuries and I’ve seen the list of guys, [and] I’m just glad to be one of the 30.”

Casey has been a noted leader on the field for the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team. In the  classroom he’s earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and graduated magna cum laude with a 3.52 cumulative GPA. He’s also participated with numerous philanthropic events for the University.

“To advise student athletes from my personal experience you only really get four or five years to be here, some get six if you do it right,” Casey said. “Take that time and don’t be selfish with it, give back and you get a lot out of doing community things as well as helping the team and being out there. There’s a lot more than just being a student athlete.”

During his time on the men’s soccer team at URI, his accomplishments form a long list. Casey received URI’s Offensive MVP award as a sophomore, following a freshman campaign where he led the team in scoring.

He missed playing his junior year because of a knee injury, but returned to record 11 points (5 goals and 1 assist) in 15 games due to an injury-shortened senior season. During the semifinals of last year’s Atlantic-10 men’s soccer championships with Rhode Island facing elimination, Casey scored an 87th minute equalizer before netting a diving header in double-overtime to lock up the 2-1 victory and send URI to the title game. Casey was named to the 2014 Atlantic-10 All-Championship Team.

Following Casey’s senior season he had a tough decision to make. He could either risk injury and use the redshirt season as a graduate student or hang up his cleats after a tough loss in a championship game.

He chose to return and captain the Rams as a redshirt senior.

“I have too much love for the sport,” Casey said. “We lost in the finals last year which definitely made me want to come back. I’ve heard a lot of people say to me, especially Joël Dargan (2001-03), who is an alumni for us, tell me they had a fifth year and didn’t take it and it was one of the biggest regrets of their lives. So I figured I might as well go out and do it, make the most of all the time I have.”

In addition to his love for the sport, Casey has always had a great bond with his teammates.

“URI means everything to me. Ever since high school it’s taught me a lot and it’s like a second family,” Casey said. “I’m proud [of] the fact [that] I stuck with it and met some great guys along the way, some guys who are a lot better than me. I’ve been able to contribute, any contribution on and off the field is what I am most proud of.”

The University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team’s next game is at the University of Connecticut this Saturday.