NORTON, Mass. - Former Wheaton College men's track & field star and current United States federal government employee Merzudin Ibric (Revere, Mass./Phillips Academy) was named one of four recipients for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Award of Valor. A 2010 graduate with a degree in international relations, Ibric will be recognized at an awards banquet on Tuesday in Hyannis.
Established in 1985, the ECAC Award of Valor honors ECAC student-athletes whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all. The recipients exemplify strength of character and perseverance deserving recognition as being truly triumphant.
An outspoken activist against genocide, Ibric is a Bosnian refugee who fled his war-torn homeland and arrived in the U.S. in 1998. His journey - filled with numerous challenges and triumphs - is an inspiring lesson in courage, perseverance and hope. When he arrived in the U.S., he knew only two words, "okay" and "bye," which he picked up from watching American movies.
Ibric has written a book about his experiences called Running for My Life, which he hopes to publish. He was five when war broke out in Bosnia, a conflict that claimed over 100,000 lives and uprooted more than two million people. In 1992, struggling to eat and enduring extreme living conditions, Ibric's seven-member family fled from village to village praying for the atrocities to end. His uncle was killed during the genocide. Shrapnel severely wounded his sister and injured his father.
Forced to flee Srebrenica, the family was bused to Tuzla. As a grown male, Ibric's father was not permitted to leave but later escaped the village and joined the family. Eventually, they gained permission to immigrate to the United States to get medical care for Ibric's sister. In June of 1998, Ibric's family landed at Boston's Logan Airport and was taken to an apartment in Revere to start their lives over. For Ibric, sports, particularly soccer, helped to bridge the communication gap. He became a sports star at Revere High School, which drew the attention of college recruiters.
Ibric chose Wheaton because of its program in international relations. During his senior year of college, he was a two-time outdoor national champion and All-American in the 4x100M and 4x400M relays as well as a two-time indoor All-American in the 400M dash and 4x400M relay. In April, Ibric was named Wheaton's Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year.
For his distinguished career, Ibric is a five-time All-American and two-time national champion. He garnered his third straight national academic honor from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and secured New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) all-league accolades eight times.