On August 12, 2013, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) announced its annual all-conference award winners, naming Emmanuel's Craig Schoaf '16 as the GNAC's Sportsman of the Year for the 2012-13 academic year. A member of the Emmanuel College Men's Cross Country Team, Schoaf was nominated for multiple honors at the conference, regional and national level following his heroic actions on Marathon Monday in Boston.
Presented annually to student-athletes representing GNAC member institutions, the conference Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year honors are given to a male and a female student-athlete, who demonstrate the highest level of sportsmanship in the GNAC. Schoaf was nominated for this honor by the Emmanuel College Athletic Department Staff and the winners were voted upon by the conference administrators.
Monday, April 15, 2013, marked one of many "Marathon Mondays" in which Emmanuel College sent volunteers to work the marathon finishline on Boylston Street. Ten student-athletes from Emmanuel's Cross Country and Track + Field programs were at the finishline assisting with the drug testing procedures for the elite marathon runners. Schoaf, a freshman at the time, was not among the 10 volunteers. Schoaf was safely on campus at Emmanuel, just 1.6 miles from the marathon finishline.
When he got word of the horrific bombings, he frantically tried to contact his teammates at the finishline. With cellphone service sporadic in Boston, Schoaf could not get through to anybody. Fearing the worst, he sprinted the 1.6 miles and encountered a shocking situation. When he arrived on Boylston Street, he searched desperately for his teammates only to be informed that the Emmanuel student-athletes had been relieved of their duties and thankfully sent back to campus just 20 minutes before the bombings.
Schoaf was obviously relieved by this news. However, instead of returning to campus to hug his teammates and share in their relief, he went to work along with so many of Boston's first responders. For the next six hours, Schoaf helped stranded runners find their way. Hundreds of marathon finishers were "told to go home," yet had no where to go: no cell phones, no way to communicate with friends and family, no way to get back to their hotels, no warm clothes, nothing. Many international runners could not speak English. He assisted these lost, tired, physically and mentally shaken runners in finding their way. He walked them, one-by-one, to their hotels and to various meeting points throughout the city. It wasn't until after dark, that he finally returned to the Emmanuel campus, exhausted.
Schoaf's immediate and dedicated response to the bombings on April 15th were incredibly courageous and brave. The Athletic Administrators and Coaches at Emmanuel are so proud of his efforts on such a tragic day. He is truly deserving of this award and, in our minds, a true SAINT!