Elizabeth Phillips − a three-time NCAA Elite 89 Award winner, seven-time All-American and biomedical engineering graduate of Washington University in St. Louis −is the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.
Phillips was chosen from among nine finalists during the 22nd annual NCAA Woman of the Year awards program Sunday night in Indianapolis. The award honors female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership.
“Winning Woman of the Year was really exciting! I was so surprised when my name was read,” said Phillips. “It is exciting to put my school on the map in that way and to represent Division III. Honestly, over the past two days it has been great to meet all of these amazing women. To even be amongst them is such an honor.”
Phillips, a team captain, helped lead her team to the 2011 Division III cross country championship. She holds the school record in the 1,500-meter run and the University Athletic Association record in the mile run. She also was a member of the distance medley relay team, which set a school record.
“What I really loved about being a runner at Wash. U was the team experience. I had an amazing team,” said Phillips. “It didn’t matter if you were the best runner on the team or if you a runner who would never make the conference lineup, you’re all equal on our team. You’re all equal in our coach’s eyes and all of our eyes. Everyone mattered.”
Washington U. in St. Louis recognized Phillips as the most successful junior female student-athlete. She also received the W Club Distinguished Senior Athlete of the Year award, which is presented to the top performing male and female athlete for their contributions to the athletic program.
Phillips thrived in the School of Engineering, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and as the class valedictorian. Her academic achievement was recognized by her school with many awards, including the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award, the Gwendolyn Drew Award and the Outstanding Biomedical Engineering Senior award.
Her academic excellence was not only recognized by her school but also by other organizations around the country. Phillips was named the 2012 CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for women’s Division III track and field/cross country, a 2011 and 2012 CoSIDA/Capital One first-team All-American and a member of the 2011 Division III cross country women’s Scholar Team of the Year. The UAA named her a four-time President’s Scholar Athlete and a nine-time All-Academic team member.
“What I learned on the field has really helped me take that into the classroom and build teamwork skills. What I have done academically also has helped me as an athlete,” said Phillips. “I don’t think I could have ever focused on just one or the other or I would have probably felt that I was too much of a one-dimensional person, whereas having both kept me balanced.”
Phillips dedicated much of her free time to volunteering. Serving as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, Philips helped build a sense of community among student-athletes on her campus, coordinated weekly tutoring for St. Louis youth and collected more than 700 teddy bears to donate to a local children’s hospital.
“One of my favorite volunteer activities was working with an organization called Girls on the Run where I trained a group of elementary school girls to run a 5K,” said Phillips. “We would talk about bullying or self-respect. We would talk about that lesson, play some games and go running. To run alongside them and see how much fun they were having and how much they were enjoying it was such a gratifying experience.”
Phillips is an NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipient and is a first-year medical student and volunteer assistant cross country coach at the University of Pennsylvania.
Interview with the winner
NCAA.org's Courtney Cronin interviews 2012 Woman of the Year Liz Phillips.
About Liz Phillips
Phillips discusses her the balance between academics and athletics and her extensive volunteer work w the running community.