The NCAA has announced the top 30 candidates for their NCAA Woman of the Year award, which is handed out annually to one female student-athlete on the basis of their academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership throughout their college career. To be eligible for the 2011 award, an athlete must have graduated by the end of the summer of 2011, have completed their NCAA eligibility by the spring of the same year, and have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
Swimmers dominate this list. In all, almost one-quarter (seven) of the top 30 are swimmers, which represents the 2nd-most of any sport (and an increase from only four last year). Track has the most with 8 – though one athlete, Laura Barito from the Stevens Institute of Technology, fell under both categories. Barito, as we highlighted in the spring, won Division III National Championships in both swimming and track in 2011.
Swimming nominees include:
Annie Chandler, Arizona
Audra Egenolf, SMU
Nicole Horn, Henderson State
Kelsey Ward, Drury
Laura Barito, Stevens Institute of Technology (Swimming/Track)
Haley Emerick, Trinity (Texas)
Molly Evans, Carnegie Mellon
Swimmers are not unfamiliar with this award, as they have won it 9 times in the 20-year history of the award. Most recently was Arizona’s Justine Schluntz, who was an NCAA Champion in the pool and a prestigious Rhodes Scholar out of the pool. That shows the lofty standards that award winners must live up to.
The biggest name on this list is Annie Chandler. It’s only fitting to have a Wildcat on this list, as they’re on a two-year winning streak with this award. Prior to Schluntz, Lacey Nymeyer took the award in 2010, and before that Whitney Myers won in 2008.
From here, the list will be whittled to 9, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in Indianapolis on October 16th. The award is decided on by the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics.