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2003 NCAA Woman of the Year

Ashley Jo Rowatt, Kenyon College

 

Kenyon swimmer surfaces as 2003 Woman of the Year

Rowatt is first from Division III to be named

The NCAA News, November 10, 2003
By Leilana McKindra

 

Ashley Jo Rowatt 2003 NCAA Woman of the Year

Ashley Jo Rowatt, a former swimming standout at Kenyon College, was named the 2003 NCAA Woman of the Year during the 13th annual awards dinner November 1 in Indianapolis.

Rowatt, who was selected from about 350 nominations, is the first student-athlete from Kenyon and the first from Division III to earn the honor.

After accepting the award, Rowatt thanked her family, coaches, professors and teammates for inspiring her to achieve. She also congratulated each of the state winners who shared the stage with her.

"There is no reason to compete in athletics if it's not bringing you enjoyment. Compete for the love of the sport and for yourself, not for other people or for any other pressures that might get to you," Rowatt said.

Rowatt graduated summa cum laude with highest honors last May with a degree in molecular biology. She earned distinction as a two-time Verizon Academic All-American and was named that program's Academic All-American of the Year in 2003. Rowatt, an NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipient, was the Robert Bowen Brown Jr. Prize winner, which recognizes best original research in biology at Kenyon, and recipient of the 2003 Jess Falkenstine Award, given for the outstanding Kenyon scholar-athlete who exemplifies leadership and integrity.

A four-year qualifier for the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, Rowatt was a two-time individual NCAA champion in the 400-yard individual medley and the 800-yard freestyle relay. She also captured an NCAA championship in the 200-yard individual medley. Her team won the Division III championship in 2000, 2002 and 2003 and earned four North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championships. At the conference championships, she won four events and was named all-NCAC nine times.

Rowatt also found time to reach out to the community as well as play the flute at Kenyon despite a schedule laden with commitments to her academic and athletics pursuits.

She was a member of the American Chemical Society for students and Kenyon Bible studies. In addition, Rowatt was a four-year member of the the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and was elected as flute section leader as a senior. She was a member of her campus student-athlete committee and tutored trouble youth.

Rowatt points to her family's support as key to her achievements. She also cited the support of her Kenyon swimming teammates as a secret to her success.

"Just seeing them being dedicated to the classroom and dedicated to the pool really put it in my head that something like this was possible," Rowatt said.

Rowatt said she also drew inspiration from a former club coach, who also was an Olympian and former world record holder. She said that coach encouraged her to work harder and set priorities that include faith, family, academics and swimming.

"I thought it was a really great way to think about it and I've adopted that priority system," she said. "She's been a great inspiration to me, specifically for giving me that bit of advice."

The Louisville, Kentucky, native has turned her attention to medical school and is currently attending Vanderbilt University. However, Rowatt has yet to select a specialty, although she's certain she'd like to practice rather than research.

"I'm thinking about primary care, but I'm also thinking about almost every other specialty there is so my eyes are open to the possibilities right now," she said.

Rowatt has retired from the pool, but those competitive juices continue to bubble just under the surface. Although she admits she hasn't set any definite goals, she is interested in picking up biking with an eye toward competing in a triathlon one day.

As for words of wisdom to other young women athletes, Rowatt reiterates what her club coach told her.

"Work harder than hard. Everybody else out there is going to be working hard. You have to work harder than hard," she said.

Finally, Rowatt stressed the importance of education.

"You can't play the game if you don't have the grades," she said. "I find often that the best athletes are the best in academics. They are not inconsistent with each other because they carry over. You're going to be better at academics because you're better at athletics and vice versa."

Last year's Woman of the Year was Tanisha Silas, a student-athlete from the University of California, Davis, who competed in track and field and graduated with a degree in neurobiology, physiology and behavior.

 

Woman of the Year finalists announced

Field demonstrates academic, athletics achievement

The NCAA News, September 29, 2003

 

2003 Award Dinner Video

Ten finalists have been chosen for the 2003 NCAA Woman of the Year, which recognizes young women for outstanding achievement in athletics, academics and community service.

The 10 finalists are: Elia Burrill, U.S. Air Force Academy -- fencing; Susan Churchwell, University of California, Davis -- softball; Victoria Courmes, Barry University -- tennis; Joanna Hingle, Duke University -- rowing; Melissa D. Jones, Monmouth University (Illinois) -- basketball, volleyball, and indoor and outdoor track and field; Tiffany Kyser, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis -- basketball; Kara Lawson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville -- basketball; Erika Paige Proko, Washington and Lee University -- tennis; Ashley Jo Rowatt, Kenyon College -- swimming and diving; and Kristin B. Sterner, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa -- gymnastics.

The NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced November 1 in Indianapolis.

Following are some of the accomplishments of the 10 finalists.

 

Alabama
Kristin B. Sterner
Gymnastics
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Academic achievement: Biology major who is expected to graduate in December 2003. Scholastic all-American, 2000-03. Named as Alabama Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2002-03. Southeastern Conference Boyd McWhorter Scholarship, 2003. Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Beta, Beta, Beta honorary societies. Academic all-SEC, 2001-02; National Society of Collegiate Scholars, 2000-03. Awarded 2003 NCAA postgraduate scholarship.

Athletics achievement: NCAA team champion, 2002; conference team champion, 2000 and 2003. Regional champion in the vault, balance beam and all-around competition. All-American in the floor exercise, uneven parallel bars, balance beam, vault and all-around competition. All-conference on the balance beam, 2000-01.

Service and leadership: Hosted community Halloween party for children, 2000-03. Student-Athlete Advisory Board, 2000-03. Volunteer at Bama Rama gymnastics event entertaining more than 500 youth gymnasts. Team captain, 2001-03.

Excerpt from personal statement: "The combination of opportunities in academics, athletics and community service has advanced me toward reaching my goals of attending medical school, becoming a top physician and being a leader in the community."

Hometown: Ionia, Michigan.

 

California
Susan Churchwell
Softball
University of California, Davis

Academic achievements: Economics major who graduated in June 2003. Selected as a Verizon Academic All-American. Nominee for conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2003. Received economics department citation for excellence, 2003. Received W.P. Lindley Award, 2002, which is considered the most competitive and prestigious award for a student-athlete at UC Davis. Member of the Golden Key Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa.

Athletics achievements: Holds five school records. Most outstanding player, member of the 2003 NCAA championship all-tournament team. NCAA champions, 2003. Two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association all-American. Led Division II in earned-run average (0.21) in 2001.

Service and leadership: Participated in the annual student-athlete drive to collect food, gifts, clothes and supplies for the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Left. Selected to assist a professor as a peer tutor for intermediate macroeconomics. Volunteered for the Northern California Special Olympics and at St. Martin's Episcopal Church. Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member.

Excerpt from personal statement: "...yet the life lessons I've learned from my experiences in the classroom, in the community and on the field at UC Davis have shaped me for the rest of my life. The games in college are over -- and I am ready to step up to the plate to face my next challenge."

Hometown: Lake Forest, California.

 

Colorado
Elia Burrill
Fencing
U.S. Air Force Academy

Academic achievement: Business management major who graduated in May 2003. Received the overall order of merit for cadet performance and the outstanding summer research award. Honored with the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete Award for 2001-03. Received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was nominated as the Mountain West Student-Athlete of the Year. Chosen as a 2003 Verizon Academic All-District VII selection.

Athletics achievement: Member of the U.S. Fencing Team at the World Cups in 2002. Three-time most valuable fencer. Three-time Western regional champion on women's epee. Four-time NCAA championships qualifier. Academic all-American and three-time team MVP. Team participated in four consecutive NCAA and conference championships, 2000 to 2003.

Service and leadership: Volunteer for Baby Track, which teaches English to mothers. Participated in a summer internship at the Pentagon. Team captain, 2001-03. Squadron Academic Non-Commission Officer, Squadron Flight Non-Commissioned Officer, and Squadron Element Leader.

Excerpt from personal statement: "The responsibility to both my team and my subordinate cadets taught me the essence of servant leadership and necessity for personal excellence."

Hometown: Truckee, California.

 

Florida
Victoria Courmes
Tennis
Barry University

Academic achievements: Political science major who graduated in May 2003. Selected as the University Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2002, 2003. Four-time recipient of Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar all-American; four-time Sunshine State Conference. Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Member of the Alpha Chi and Pi Gamma Mu honor societies.

Athletics achievements: Singles: First-team ITA all-American, 2000-03. First-team all-conference, 2000-03. Doubles: First-team ITA all-American, 2001-02. National team runner-up, 2003; third-place finishes in 2001, 2002. Finished career with most No. 1 singles wins in school history (60).

Service and leadership: Served on Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Mentored a child with a disability; served food to the homeless. Three-year peer tutor, selected among student-athletes with a 3.500 grade-point average or higher. Senator for student government, 2002-03. Team captain, 2002-03.

Excerpt from personal statement: "The culturally diverse team (Latin America, Europe, Africa and U.S.) encouraged me to sharpen my diplomatic skills in order to effectively communicate with and inspire teammates from different cultures, helping them achieve their highest potential through both victory and defeat."

Hometown: Bastia, France.

 

Illinois
Melissa D. Jones
Volleyball, Basketball, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Monmouth College (Illinois)

Academic achievements: Physical education major who graduated cum laude in May 2003. Academic all-conference in volleyball, basketball, and indoor and outdoor track. Second-team basketball Verizon Academic All-District V in 2003. Member of the Blue Key and Kappa Delta Pi educational honor societies.

Athletics achievements: Volleyball: School record holder in games played (495), kill attempts in a season (1,412), and season kill attempts per game (11.12). All-conference selection, 2000 and 2003. Basketball: Owns seven school records. Member of the all-conference first-team. Track and field: Four-time all-American for high jump. All-conference member in both indoor and outdoor track and field. Owns school and conference high-jump record.Team won conference indoor championship, 2000, 2002 and 2003; outdoor conference champions, 2000-03.

Service and leadership: Served on Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. VIVA Quad Cities volunteer, 2001-03. Mentor for students with special needs, 2002-03. Volleyball team captain, 2002; basketball captain, 2001-03.

Excerpt from personal statement: "Athletics teaches us if we attack our challenges by setting goals and meeting them through discipline, organization and hard work, we can be successful in sports and life. Special athletics moments make you realize all the hard work is worth it."

Hometown: Port Byron, Illinois.

 

Indiana
Tiffany Kyser
Basketball
Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis

Academic achievements: English education major who graduated in May 2003. Earned university's outstanding female student leader award, 2001-03. Verizon Academic All-American, 2003; All-District, 2001-02. Creamland Dairies National College Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year, 2003. IU School of Education of Indianapolis Outstanding Student Award. Recipient of the Indianapolis YWCA Salute to Women of Achievement Award, 2003.

Athletics achievements: First-team all-conference, 2001-03. Conference defensive player of the year and player of the year, 2003. Owns school records for rebounds (874), free throws made (486), free throws made in a season (144) and games played (113). One of three players in the conference to score 1,500 career points and grab 800 career rebounds.

Service and leadership: Served on Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, 1999-2001. Traveled on mission trip with other conference women's basketball players to Mexico, 2002. Member of the Black Student Union, Campus Crusade for Christ, and English Club. Motivational speaker to elementary schools in central Indiana. Participated in National Institute for Fitness and Sport's ECO-Clean Team, 1999-2003.

Excerpt from personal statement: "During my four years at IUPUI, I went through an incredible amount of difficulties with adjusting to the campus, making new friends, learning about myself, dealing with classes. But l learned as a child and am still learning that we are made through how we react to adverse situations."

Hometown: Indianapolis.

 

North Carolina
Joanna Hingle
Rowing
Duke University

Academic achievement: Civil engineering major who graduated in May 2003. Received the Architectural Engineering Certificate and Aubrey Palmer Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering, 2003. National Rowing Scholar-Athlete, 2001-03, and Verizon Academic All-District, 2002. Awarded conference Weaver-James-Corrigan postgraduate scholarship.

Athletics achievement: All-conference member, 2001-03; all-region member, 2001-03; all-American, 2001. Team finished second at the 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference championships.

Service and leadership: Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Board member and program chair for Society of Women Engineers, 1999-03. First-year advisory counselor and Special Olympics volunteer. Teaching assistant for architectural engineering, 2002-03. Team captain, 2001-03.

Excerpt from personal statement: "My commitment to excellence in engineering and rowing have made time my most valuable resource, and I've enjoyed using the free time I've made to participate in freshman buddy programs, take advantage of campus productions and spend time with the amazing people I have met."

Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Ohio
Ashley Jo Rowatt
Swimming and Diving
Kenyon College

Academic achievement: Molecular biology major who graduated summa cum laude and distinction in May 2003. Two-time Verizon Academic All-American (2002, 2003) and 2003 Verizon Academic All-American of the Year. Recipient of the Robert Bowen Brown Jr. Prize, given for best original research in biology, and the 2003 Jess Falkenstine Award, given to the outstanding scholar-athlete who exemplifies leadership and integrity.

Athletics achievement: Two-time NCAA champion in the 400-yard individual medley and 800-yard freestyle relay, and one-time champion in the 200-yard individual medley. Thirteen-time all-American and nine-time all-North Coast Athletic Conference selection. Four-time conference champion as an individual and member of four-time conference championship team. Three-time NCAA team champions.

Service and leadership: Member of the American Chemical Society for Students, Kenyon Bible Studies and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, 1999-03. Served on the Student Athletic Committee, 2002-03, and tutored trouble youth. Flute section leader in symphonic band and team co-captain, 2002-03.

Excerpt from personal statement: "While academic pursuits are my top priority, I not only found a balance among athletics, academics, service and leadership, but also thrived in these endeavors. I look forward to bringing the enthusiasm that I contributed to the Kenyon community to Vanderbilt Medical School next year."

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Tennessee
Kara Lawson
Basketball
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Academic achievement: Finance major who graduated magna cum laude in May 2003. Verizon Academic All-American, 2002-03; three-time academic all-conference. Named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Female Student-Athlete of the Year, 2002-03, and received National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Director's Cup Division I Award. Awarded Tennessee's Torchbearer Award, which is the school's highest student honor, 2002-03.

Athletics achievement: School record holder in career three-point field goals (256), three-point field goals attempted (617), and free-throw percentage (84.7). Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award honoree, 2002-03. Two-time Tennessee basketball athlete of the year. Member of the 2003 Women's Final Four all-tournament team.

Service and leadership: Served on Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, 2000-03; president, 2002-03. Member of university's athletics board, 2001-03. Member of the Southeastern Conference Good Works Team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Team and organizer of Kara Lawson's Give Back Clinics. Team captain, 2001-02.

Excerpt from personal statement: "So many of the values that I hold as pivotal for success in life have been born from or strengthened by my collegiate experience. My collegiate career, both athletically and academically, allowed me to appreciate the importance of diversity in my life. I would like to be someone who can enlighten, encourage, inspire and lead others."

Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Virginia
Erika Paige Proko
Tennis
Washington and Lee University

Academic achievement: Neuroscience major who graduated in June 2003. Verizon Academic All-District, 2001-02. School's freshman female athlete of the year and senior female athlete of the year. Recipient of Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) woman scholar athlete award, 2003.

Athletics achievement: Six-time all-American, which is a school record. All-time leader in doubles wins (104). Third in school history in singles wins (92).

Service and leadership: Chair of ODAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), 2001-03; NCAA Division III SAAC, 2001-03. Volunteered at Rockbridge free clinic and Lifestyle Information for Everyone.

Excerpt from personal statement: "As I enter medical school to work toward my goal of being a physician who makes a difference, my involvement in collegiate athletics has prepared me well to meet the challenges ahead."

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina.
 

 

Woman of the Year selection group names state winners

The NCAA has selected 50 Woman of the Year state winners for 2003.

The NCAA News, September 15, 2003

 

2003 NCAA Woman of the Year Logo

The NCAA Woman of the Year award recognizes outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics and community leadership.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are represented among the 2003 state winners. No nominations were received from schools in New Mexico. Twenty-nine honorees are from Division I institutions, nine are from Division II schools and 12 represent Division III institutions. The winners represent 17 sports.

Each NCAA member institution was invited to nominate a student-athlete for the 13th annual awards program. For the fourth year, schools were allowed to submit a second nominee if one candidate was an ethnic minority. Twenty-six schools did so, down one from last year.

Of the 338 total nominations received, 176 came from Division I, 56 were submitted by Division II institutions and 106 were received from Division III schools.

A committee consisting of representatives from member institutions chose the state winners. That same committee will chose 10 finalists from among the 50 state winners. Selection criteria include grade-point average, athletics accomplishments and community service.

The 10 finalists will be announced in the September 29 issue of The NCAA News.

A national winner, chosen by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics from among the 10 finalists, will be announced during the 2003 Woman of the Year dinner November 1 at the Marriott Downtown Indianapolis.

Robin Roberts of ABC's "Good Morning America," and Nell Fortner, head coach of the Women's National Basketball Association's Indiana Fever, will serve as emcees for the event.

Also, in conjunction with the NCAA Woman of the Year award weekend, honorees will participate in the NCAA Sports Spectacular, a sports clinic for boys and girls ages 10 through 18.

Last year's national winner was Tanisha Silas, a track student-athlete from the University of California, Davis.
 

Woman of the Year State Winners

State

Winner

School

Sport

Alabama

Kristin B. Sterner

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Gymnastics

Alaska

Leslie Boyd

University of Alaska Anchorage

Cross country, skiing

Arizona

Lisa Aguilera

Arizona State University

Cross country, indoor and outdoor track

Arkansas

Kattie Shepherd

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Swimming

California

Susan Churchwell

University of California, Davis

Softball

Colorado

Elia Burrill

U.S. Air Force Academy

Fencing

Connecticut

Kate O'Neill

Yale University

Cross country

Delaware

Julie Van Deusen

University of Delaware

Swimming

District of Columbia

Lindsey Davidson

George Washington University

Basketball

Florida

Victoria Courmes

Barry University

Tennis

Georgia

Candace Turner

Columbus State University

Basketball

Hawaii

Margaret Vakasausau

University of Hawaii, Manoa

Volleyball

Idaho

Angela Whyte

University of Idaho

Indoor and outdoor track

Illinois

Melissa D. Jones

Monmouth College (Illinois)

Basketball, outdoor track, volleyball

Indiana

Tiffany Kyser

Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis

Basketball

Iowa

Jessica Jensen

Buena Vista University

Basketball, outdoor track

Kansas

Sarah Wuertz

Emporia State University

Indoor and outdoor track

Kentucky

Travece Turner

Morehead State University

Basketball

Louisiana

Trina Peters

Nicholls State University

Cross country, indoor and outdoor track

Maine

Elizabeth Anne Barney

Bowdoin College

Cross country, indoor and outdoor track

Maryland

Julie Shank

University of Maryland, College Park

Lacrosse

Massachusetts

Marret Kjestina Arfsten

Wellesley College

Field hockey

Michigan

Janessa Grieco

University of Michigan

Gymnastics

Minnesota

Teresa Thompson

University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)

Soccer

Mississippi

Mira Radu

University of Mississippi

Tennis

Missouri

Rebecca Rotello

Washington University (Missouri)

Volleyball

Montana

Lacy Hinzpeter

Montana State University-Bozeman

Indoor and outdoor track

Nebraska

Laura Pilakowski

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Basketball, volleyball

Nevada

Jessica Raelynn Zarndt

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Cross country, indoor and outdoor track

New Hampshire

Correne Bredin

Dartmouth College

Ice hockey

New Jersey

Alexis Diane Jemal

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Fencing

New York

Melissa White

State University College at Geneseo

Cross country

North Carolina

Joanna Hingle

Duke University

Rowing

North Dakota

Becky Moen

University of North Dakota

Basketball

Ohio

Ashley Jo Rowatt

Kenyon College

Swimming

Oklahoma

Lauren Bay

Oklahoma State University

Softball

Oregon

Elizabeth Jillson

Oregon State University

Gymnastics

Pennsylvania

Lauren Schmidt

Carnegie Mellon University

Volleyball

Rhode Island

Jessica Cooper

Brown University

Volleyball

South Carolina

Kristy McPherson

University of South Carolina, Columbia

Golf

South Dakota

Melissa Pater

South Dakota State University

Basketball

Tennessee

Kara Lawson

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Basketball

Texas

Kendra Anderson

Hardin-Simmons University

Basketball

Utah

Katie Martin-Sabey

Brigham Young University

Cross country, indoor and outdoor track

Vermont

Elizabeth LeFebvre

St. Michael's College

Basketball

Virginia

Erika Paige Proko

Washington and Lee University

Tennis

Washington

Paige Benjamin

University of Washington

Volleyball

West Virginia

Toni Alexandria Riley

Fairmont State College

Swimming

Wisconsin

Jocelyn Christine Loe

University of Wisconsin, La Crosse

Indoor and outdoor track

Wyoming

Carrie Bacon

University of Wyoming

Basketball