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1999 NCAA Woman of the Year

Jamila Demby, University of California, Davis

 

Demby named 1999 Woman of the Year

For UC Davis track star, award is about 'everything I love to do'

By Kay Hawes, Staff Writer
The NCAA News, November 8, 1999

Jamila Demby, 1999 NCAA Woman of the Year

Jamila Demby, a track and field standout from the University of California, Davis, was named the 1999 NCAA Woman of the Year October 24 at the ninth annual NCAA Woman of the Year Awards Dinner held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

Among 10 finalists selected for the award from more than 300 nominations, Demby was recognized for her commitment to academics, athletics and community service.

"This award means a lot to me because it's about everything I love to do," Demby said. "I love to run track, I love school and I love working with kids."

Demby, who will become a first-generation college graduate when she graduates in December with a degree in rhetoric and communications, said much of the credit for her achievements should go to her mother, Deborah Thomas.

"I want to thank my mother for inspiring me to go to college and to get where I am today," she said. "My mother inspired me to go to college so I could get a job I enjoy, since she's never had that opportunity."

Life-saving opportunity

Demby's mother also unknowingly provided her daughter with a chance to demonstrate her character at an early age. Demby had just won her first all-America title at the NCAA Division II championships her freshman year when she learned that her mother was dying of kidney failure.

Even though it would have meant the end of her running career and possibly the end of her college career as well, Demby volunteered to give her mother a kidney. Only days before the surgery, another donor match was found and Demby went back to her life as a student-athlete.

"She's always been a good, happy child," Thomas said of Demby. "Even though she was an only child, she was never selfish. She always shared her toys. She's just a wonderful person. I can totally trust her, and I'll feel very proud when she graduates. That will mean a great deal to me."

Demby has been on the honor roll at UC Davis from 1995 to 1999, and she was the 1995-96 recipient of the Bloss Scholarship.

Demby was an indoor track and field All-America pick in the 1,600-meter relay in 1998 and 1999. In outdoor track and field, she was an all-American in the 800 meters in 1996, 1997 and 1999, and she was an all-American in the 1,600-meter relay in 1998 and 1999. A first-team all-conference pick in the 400 meters in 1996 and 1997, she also was all-conference in the 800 meters in 1996 and 1999. She also took home the university's Women's Track and Field Most Inspirational Award in 1996 and 1999.

Demby's work in the community as a student-athlete has been so fulfilling that she plans to continue it into her professional life. Someday she would like to work in an outreach program mentoring disadvantaged children.

"I just enjoy it," she said of her community service. "I have fun. I get something out of it. But I feel like I'm giving back, too."

Demby volunteered as a Special Olympics coach, instructed physically challenged youth in track events at the ACT Games and instructed junior-high students at the Jacobs Track Clinic. She also participated in various food and clothing drives, organized an event at the Shriner's Hospital and was awarded the university's Outstanding Senior Leadership Award in 1999.

Even with all of those accomplishments, Demby was surprised with her selection as 1999 NCAA Woman of the Year.

"This was really unexpected," she said. "I'm so surprised and happy. I really appreciate this award, and I really appreciate getting an award for doing all the things I love to do."

Even without a prepared speech, Demby was well-received by the audience of nearly 700, which gave her a standing ovation when the award was announced.

"I just didn't think much of my own chances," she said. "I was just in awe of everybody else. It was just a pleasure to be up there with everyone who has accomplished so much."

 

Finalists:

1999 NCAA Woman of the Year Finalists

Erin Baxter

Erin Baxter, a midfielder at Florida, was captain of the Gators' Division I women's soccer team, the 1998 champions who defeated North Carolina, a 14-time winner of the title.

An all-America first-team and second-team choice throughout her career, Baxter also was a member of the Umbro Select College All-Star Classic in February.

"Being a captain of a national championship team was a great leadership experience and gave me the chance to have a lot of responsibility," Baxter said. "The teamwork and dedication it took to play soccer are things I will need the rest of my life."

A member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, Baxter earned recognition as the 1999 GTE Academic All-American of the Year for fall/winter 1998-99. Baxter also took home the Tracy Caulkins Award, given to Florida's top graduating female student-athlete.

Baxter coached a girls' under-13 soccer team and organized a soccer challenge event to raise money for the Florida senior class gift to the school. Baxter volunteered with the Goodwill Gators all four years at Florida, visiting children in the hospital, working the Jerry Lewis telethon, speaking to young people about goal setting and participating in the NCAA Youth Education through Sports program for inner-city children.

Jamila Demby

Jamila Demby, a seven-time all-American in indoor and outdoor track at UC Davis, faced an unusual decision following her freshman season.

A first-generation college student, Demby had just won her first all-America title at the NCAA Division II championships when she learned that her mother was dying of kidney failure. Even though it would end her running career, Demby volunteered to give her mother a kidney and was scheduled for surgery. Only days before the surgery was to have occurred, another donor match was discovered and Demby resumed her life as a student-athlete.

Demby went on to earn a spot on the dean's list at UC Davis, where she also served as track and field team captain. She also committed herself to the community, serving as an instructor for physically challenged youth and teaching coaches for the Special Olympics.

"A former team captain of the track team once told us that competing in track is like climbing a mountain," Demby said. "While the ultimate goal is to reach the top, she stressed the importance of learning from and enjoying all the things we as athletes encounter along our journey upward. I compare my overall experience as an active student-athlete to her analogy."

Suzanne Eastman

Suzanne Eastman, a soccer defender at Dartmouth, was a GTE Academic All-American and an academic all-Ivy Group pick in 1997 and 1998. Eastman also published an environmental studies paper in the spring 1999 issue of World Outlook. As team captain, Eastman led the Big Green to an Ivy Group title last year. The team also advanced to the NCAA quarterfinal round for the first time in school history.

Eastman volunteered three hours a week visiting the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, and she also served as a speaker for a drug- and alcohol-awareness program in high schools. Eastman also spent two hours a week as a Book Buddy, encouraging reading.

Eastman also is the volunteer coach of the Lightning, an under-19 girls soccer team that won the New Hampshire Tournament of Champions. Now an assistant coach at Stanford University, Eastman hopes to launch a program pairing Stanford student-athletes and East Palo Alto children.

Jaimee Heffner

Jaimee Heffner, a multisport student-athlete at Washington and Jefferson, was the Division III women's national champion in javelin in 1997. An all-conference competitor her entire career in javelin, Heffner also excelled in volleyball, where she was an outside hitter, and in soccer, where she was a defender.

Jayna Mathieu, a track and cross country student-athlete at St. Olaf, is the NCAA Division III women's champion in the 1,500-meter run (both in 1998 and 1999). The seven-time all-American and 13-time conference champion has earned 11 varsity letters.

Heffner, a Phi Beta Kappa at Washington and Jefferson, was named to honorary societies in both majors (psychology and sociology) in addition to her recognition as a GTE All-American.

Theresa Marie Lang

Theresa Marie Lang, a basketball player at North Dakota State, had an unusual interruption to her senior year. In January, while the season was in full swing, she was diagnosed with cancer. She received her first of six chemotherapy treatments at the Rochester Mayo Clinic, resuming classes a week later and playing a week after that. The team captain, Lang played all season while battling the disease, averaging 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds a game.

The previous year she was honorable mention on the 1998 Kodak Women's DII Bulletin, averaging 17 points per game and 4.5 rebounds, leading North Dakota State to a 22-6 record.

Lang didn't let the cancer keep her from her academic goals. While traveling back and forth from Fargo, North Dakota, to Rochester, Minnesota, for chemotherapy -- along with keeping all her other commitments -- Lang achieved a 4.000 grade-point average for the spring semester. She graduated on time in May with a degree in business administration, and she is a recipient of an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.

In spite of the cancer, Lang continued her community-service work, serving as a counselor for the NDSU Bison Buddy Youth Basketball Program and serving as a biweekly volunteer for the "Get into the Game" reading program. All four years in college, Lang volunteered once a month in the "Say No to Drugs" elementary school program.

"After church one Sunday, 11-year-old Tessa congratulated me on our team's Saturday night victory," Lang recalled. "Her face gleamed with excitement and admiration as she recited play-by-play action of my personal highlights from the game. I was absolutely shocked and honored by the impression I had made on Tessa's life.

"When I reflect on my four years at North Dakota State, I am most proud of being a positive role model for girls like Tessa. I have been fortunate enough to develop relationships with young people in my community where I have helped them grow as athletes and as people.

"I hope that my personal commitment to academics and athletics has served as a guide for young student-athletes. Whenever young people ask me how much time I spent practicing each day to receive a college basketball scholarship, I tell them only half as much time as I spent studying for school."

Jayna Mathieu

Mathieu graduated magna cum laude with distinction from St. Olaf. A Phi Beta Kappa, Mathieu earned a fellowship to implement an independent project focusing on welfare reform education.

"My decision to strive for excellence in academics and athletics translated into a personal resolution to improve the lives of people in poverty," Mathieu said. "I believe that my athletics involvement prepared me to undertake this project; my participation in collegiate sports helped me become more confident and driven."

Mathieu coached Special Olympics for two years, and she taught English as a second language to young people. She served as an unpaid Legal Aid intern, and she also worked on the election commission at St. Olaf, supervising student elections and writing election guidelines. Mathieu received a national grant for a student-recognition project in her role as treasurer for Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society.

Charlotte Davis Quesada

Charlotte Davis Quesada, a rower at Virginia, took home a series of NCAA championships with Virginia's second varsity eight in 1998 and 1999. Quesada, named Virginia's "Rookie of the Year" in 1996, was a non-recruited athlete.

Quesada pursued an interdisciplinary studies program in Spanish, environmental studies and Latin American relations, graduating with distinction from Virginia. Quesada received the Jettie Hill Award as the Virginia women's athlete with the highest four-year academic average.

"As a non-recruited athlete, academics were my top priority and my reason for choosing the University of Virginia," Quesada said. "I never expected to be a rower, but crew taught me how to be a team player and a champion. It enriched my life in every sense, providing friendships, structure and ambition."

Quesada served for three years as a student-athlete mentor (SAM) working with peers in substance-abuse prevention. A SAM Leadership Council officer the last two years, Quesada was honored this past year as the 1999 student-athlete mentor of the year. She received the Ernest Ern Award for outstanding contributions to student life at Virginia, and she received an Atlantic Coast Conference Top Six Award for service to the university and to Charlottesville communities.

"Volunteerism balanced the stresses of academics and athletics and provided gratifying results," Quesada said.

Emily Stauffer

Emily Stauffer, a midfielder on Harvard's soccer team, took a sabbatical from school and soccer her junior year to donate bone marrow for the second time to her brother, Matt, who was battling leukemia, a fight he ultimately lost.

After Matt's death, Stauffer returned to school and soccer for her senior season, leading her team to a 12-5-1 record and an NCAA tournament bid. A four-time all-American, Stauffer was a two-time finalist for the Hermann Trophy, honoring the most outstanding collegiate soccer player.

Stauffer graduated from Harvard with honors in January 1999. A government major, Stauffer also was a two-time GTE Academic All-American.

Stauffer credits her success to her brother, Matt, who didn't live to see her achieve many of her goals.

"It was my older brother who showed me the value of commitment. Not just to one thing, but to many -- to family, to school, to sport, to sharing yourself with others, to making a difference," Stauffer said. "Two years his junior, all I ever wanted to do was what he was doing. Since he was doing it all and working so hard, the way he paved for me was an easy one to follow.

"It was not until my brother was in the hospital battling leukemia that I think either of us realized the impact sports had on our lives. For two and a half years, my brother and my family battled the cancer; although we lost in the end, we knew that each of us had played a good game.

"And although facing the rest of my life without my brother by my side sometimes seems as difficult as playing soccer without a ball, I learned from him and through my participation in sports that there is always a reserve of strength to be found deep within you, and that there is always another game to play."

Trina Steines

Trina Steines, a track and cross country student-athlete at Wartburg, won the 800-meter run at the NCAA Division III outdoor championships in 1998 and placed second in 1999. A 10-time individual conference champion (indoor and outdoor) in the 1,500 and 800 meters, Steines also was a three-time all-conference performer in cross country, leading Wartburg to two conference championships in cross country.

"Being involved in numerous activities both throughout college and high school, I learned the importance of being a good role model," Steines said. "A person who is athletically gifted does not always receive the label 'a good role model.' To me, a good role model is the person who interacts with the community, shows compassion toward others and makes time for others."

White-McCarty

White-McCarty, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in communications at Purdue, was the 1998-99 GTE Academic All-American of the year and the 1999 Wade Trophy winner, which goes to the nation's most outstanding player (based on athletics, academics, leadership, community service and sportsmanship). White-McCarty also is a three-time academic all-Big Ten Conference selection.

White-McCarty walked horses carrying disabled children in THE CHAPS program (Therapy, Health and Education through Children and Horses as Partners ) for three years. White-McCarty also participated in activities for D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), served as a celebrity waitress at the Indianapolis Planet Hollywood to raise money for child-abuse prevention, and gave a number of unpaid speeches to high-school students at athletics banquets and camps.

A former coach and assistant coach of an under-18 girls AAU basketball team and an under-16 girls basketball team, White-McCarty recently launched her very own full-scale basketball camp at a high school in Indiana.

"While many people choose to focus all their energies on their sport, I found it much more rewarding to expand my horizons and test the boundaries of what I could accomplish," White-McCarty said. "I set high expectations of myself on the basketball court, and in the locker room as a co-captain, but I also expected myself to excel as a student in the classroom and as a Purdue student-athlete in the community. Fortunately, I was able to meet those expectations. And hopefully, I have set an example for others who will follow me."

 

State Winners:

  • Alabama: Leah Bridges Taylor, University of South Alabama, Soccer
  • Alaska: Sonnet Farrell, University of Alaska Anchorage, Volleyball
  • Arizona: Rikke Ulslev Pedersen, Northern Arizona University, Cross Country/Track
  • Arkansas: Jessica Ann Field, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Volleyball, Track
  • California: Jamila Demby, University of California, Davis, Track
  • Colorado: Heather O'Brien, Colorado College, Track
  • Connecticut: Emily K. Rauscher, Wesleyan University, Swimming
  • Delaware: Kelly Cawley, University of Delaware, Field Hockey
  • District of Columbia: Vendula Kurcova, American University, Volleyball
  • Florida: Erin Baxter, University of Florida, Soccer
  • Georgia: Carol Lynn Houston, Georgia Institute of Technology, Track
  • Hawaii: BlytheJeanne Y. Itoman, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Basketball
  • Idaho: Brandy Mamizuka, Boise State University, Volleyball
  • Illinois: LeAnn Loucretia Genzel, Illinois Wesleyan University, Volleyball
  • Indiana: Stephanie White-McCarty, Purdue University, Basketball
  • Iowa: Trina Steines, Wartburg College, Cross Country/Track
  • Kansas: Deandra Doubrava, Emporia State University, Track
  • Kentucky: Sarah Blossom, Eastern Kentucky University, Cross Country/Track
  • Louisiana: Emily Elizabeth Bonner, Centenary College, Volleyball/Softball
  • Maine: Kristen S. Doughty, Bowdoin College, Soccer/Lacrosse
  • Maryland: Nicole Aunapu, U.S. Naval Academy, Soccer
  • Massachusetts: Emily Stauffer, Harvard University, Soccer
  • Michigan: Melissa Pryor, Michigan State University, Field Hockey
  • Minnesota: Jayna Mathieu, St. Olaf College, Cross Country/Track
  • Mississippi: Amanda Lorraine Lee, Delta State University, Cross Country/Swimming
  • Missouri: Jennifer Martz, Washington University, Volleyball
  • Montana: Christine Rae Otte, Montana State University-Bozeman, Track
  • Nebraska: Tara Buzzell, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Softball
  • Nevada: Carissa M. Meyer, University of Nevada, Basketball
  • New Hampshire: Suzanne P. Eastman, Dartmouth College, Soccer
  • New Jersey: Monica Bradley, Drew University, Field Hockey/Lacrosse
  • New Mexico: Rachel Duncan, New Mexico State University, Golf
  • New York: Lisa M. Krug, William Smith College, Lacrosse/Soccer
  • North Carolina: Jennifer Ann Wiggins, Mars Hill College, Cross Country
  • North Dakota: Theresa Marie Lang, North Dakota State University, Basketball
  • Ohio: Dawn Reinhardt, Wittenberg University, Volleyball
  • Oklahoma: Kala Freeman, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Golf
  • Oregon: Kaarin E. Knudson, University of Oregon, Cross Country/Track
  • Pennsylvania: Jaimee Heffner, Washington and Jefferson College, Track/Volleyball/Soccer
  • Rhode Island: Gladys Ganiel, Providence College, Cross Country/Track
  • South Carolina: Sara J. Henrichs, University of South Carolina-Spartanburg, Volleyball
  • South Dakota: Debby Volkers, Augustana College, Track
  • Tennessee: Kathy Pesek, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Diving
  • Texas: Nikki Cockrell, University of Texas at Austin, Softball
  • Utah: Sarah Elizabeth Street, Brigham Young University, Swimming
  • Vermont: Sarah K. Ferland, St. Michael's College, Basketball
  • Virginia: Charlotte Davis Quesada, University of Virginia, Rowing
  • Washington: Lisa D. Smith, Seattle Pacific University, Gymnastics/Track
  • West Virginia: Kristina Behnfeldt, Marshall University, Basketball
  • Wisconsin: Chari Nordgaard, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, Basketball
  • Wyoming: Jami R. Laya, University of Wyoming, Volleyball