Alex Mann boosts North Central with athletic and academic prowess

Just days after the North Central Cardinals football team advanced to the NCAA Division III national semifinals for the first time, one player in particular was recognized for his performance on and off the field.

Senior offensive lineman Alex Mann from Glenview was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Second Team, the third football player in school history to be honored by the program.

Mann, who started every game in 2012 at left guard as well as the first five games of this season before suffering an injury, is a double major in finance and accounting and has a 3.9 GPA.

An Illinois Academic All-State player in 2009 as a senior at Glenbrook South, Mann’s commitment to school made him a natural fit with the philosophy of North Central’s football program.

“[Coach John] Thorne says to us, ‘Faith first, then academics, then family, then football,’ ” Mann said. “ ‘If you’re not succeeding in academics, then you’re not succeeding in football.’ ”

Mann’s professors can vouch for his commitment to the classroom.

“Not only is he a great student, he’s one that is conscientious of the students around him,” said Gerald Thalmann, associate professor of accounting and Mann’s academic adviser. “Not only is he smart, he has a great personality to go along with it. People around him appreciate who he is and his work ethic.”

Mann has worked with his peers as a tutor for the accounting department over the past two years. He also participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, helping low-income families and the elderly in the community.

Even with these activities, football and a full course load, Mann has avoided stretching himself too thin, his adviser said.

“He has a very good understanding of what he can do; he doesn’t try to overextend himself,” Thalmann said. “What he does, he does very well.”

Mann’s academic success earned him an internship this past summer with Ernst and Young in assurance service. He took the internship for credit through North Central, which led him to present research to the Illinois Accounting Teachers Conference in September.

“He answered questions … from roughly 100 faculty from surrounding colleges,” said Allison Hayes, an assistant professor of accounting who worked with Mann on the project. “It’s the type of project that only a handful of students do.”

The internship led to a full-time job offer for Mann with Ernst and Young in downtown Chicago upon graduation, which he has accepted.

North Central’s season came to an end Saturday when it suffered a 41-40 loss to Mount Union in the national semifinals. The Cardinals finished with a 13-1 record.


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Published by Jakub Rudnik

Chicago-area sportswriter. DePaul journalism professor. VP of content and SEO at Shortlister. Founder of