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Finalists announced for 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award

Nine former college athletes have been selected as finalists for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

The nine finalists, three women from each NCAA division, were selected for their outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.

Finalists were chosen from the Top 30 Woman of the Year honorees, made up of 10 honorees from each division and 14 sports, including two emerging sports. In 2020, schools nominated 605 graduating female student-athletes for this prestigious award.

The finalists and Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced during a virtual awards show Friday, Nov. 13. The show will be streamed on the NCAA Twitter account and ncaa.org/woty, and it will be streamed by ESPN.

Following are biographies of the Woman of the Year finalists, including excerpts from their personal statements in their nomination materials:

Charlotte Ahrens

School: Arizona State University
Conference: Independent
Sport: Triathlon
Major: Supply chain management
Hometown: Nuremberg, Germany

“In my journey, I have grown in wisdom and knowledge from Germany to USA to ASU to triathlon. ASU took me to a pinnacle. There, I excelled. … I feel empowered to become a global leader with global perspectives.”

Former Sun Devils triathlete and two-year team captain Charlotte Ahrens was a founding member of the triathlon team. Ahrens contributed to four consecutive team victories at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships and earned second-place individual finishes in 2017 and 2018. The two-time College Triathlon Coaches Association Division I All-American also represented Germany in international competition. Ahrens graduated summa cum laude, was a two-time CTCA Scholar All-American and earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She also was a four-year member of the Beta Gamma Sigma international honor society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. In 2020, Ahrens participated in Arizona State’s inaugural Women in Supply Chain symposium, focused on the future of women in male-dominated industries. Ahrens represented the triathlon team for four years on the university’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served for two years on the Elite Student-Athlete Advisory Group, focusing on issues of student-athlete nutrition, mental health and excellence. Throughout college, she volunteered with The Clothesline Project to raise awareness on domestic violence issues, served as a volunteer coach for National Girls & Women in Sports Day, and spoke to high school students about her experiences as an international student-athlete. 

Maddi Chitsey-Crisler

School: Lubbock Christian University
Conference: Lone Star Conference
Sport: Basketball
Major: Exercise sport science: health promotion
Hometown: Wall, Texas

“Being a collegiate women’s basketball player at Lubbock Christian University has altered my life in the most positive and beautiful way that I could have ever imagined. … Not only did I get to play the sport I love, but I got to gain an amazing education at a university that cares deeply about their students.”

Former Lubbock Christian forward Maddi Chitsey-Crisler was a 2020 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Division II College Coaches Association All-American and the 2020 D2CCA South Central Region Player of the Year. In 2019, she helped lead Lubbock Christian to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship title, the second in school history. Chitsey-Crisler was named the Lone Star Conference’s Female Athlete of the Year and became the first player in conference history to be named Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Women’s Basketball Academic Player of the Year in the same season. She led her team in scoring her senior year, helping it to a 2020 Lone Star Conference title. Chitsey-Crisler graduated summa cum laude and was a 2019-20 Lone Star Conference Academic Athlete of the Year. She also was named Lubbock Christian’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the year for 2019-20. Chitsey-Crisler participated in mission trips to Guatemala, where she helped build homes, and Ukraine, where she visited orphans and facilitated a vacation Bible study camp. In her local community, she read to children at an elementary school and visited a children’s hospital and veterans hospital.

DeAnna Hernandez

School: Texas Lutheran University
Conference: Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference
Sport: Softball
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

“Now working as a medical assistant in the COVID-19 world, I see that the things I learned as a student-athlete give me an advantage and allow me to thrive and lead.”

Former Texas Lutheran outfielder DeAnna Hernandez helped lead the Bulldogs to the 2019 NCAA Division III Softball Championship title after the team finished as regional runner-up the previous two years. In 2019, Hernandez was named to the All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference first team. Hernandez stole 37 bases in 42 career attempts, with a career batting average of .340 and a career on-base percentage of .412. She graduated summa cum laude and was a 2019 recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average competing at an NCAA championship finals site. Hernandez was named Texas Lutheran’s 2020 Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, as well as the Junior Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2019. She earned a chemistry grant in 2019 and served as an organic chemistry research assistant. Hernandez also was a two-year member of the Pre-Health Professions Club on campus, including serving one year as president and one year as secretary. Hernandez served as an official representative of the university as secretary on the Black & Gold President’s Council for the 2019-20 academic year. Additionally, she worked as a peer mentor for first-year students and was a member of the Campus Activity Board. 

Arielle Johnston

School: Salisbury University
Conference: Capital Athletic Conference
Sport: Field hockey
Major: Community health
Hometown: Crisfield, Maryland

“I want to create a nonprofit organization to target the low-income athletes in my community and provide them opportunities to learn the valuable life skills that training and participating in sports can engender when properly coached and encouraged.”

Salisbury midfielder Arielle Johnston was the 2020 Division III Honda Athlete of the Year Award finalist for field hockey. The two-year team captain also was a 2019 Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III first-team All-American. Johnston contributed to semifinal runs in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship in 2016 and 2019. She was named 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year for field hockey. A 2019 recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average competing at an NCAA championship finals site, Johnston also received a 2020 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She received first-team 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-America NCAA Division III At-Large honors and was recognized as NFHCA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Salisbury’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year her senior year. Throughout college, Johnston represented her team on the Student-Athlete Wellness Advisory Team, overseeing the Student-Athlete Mentors program, in which she mentored student-athletes for four years. She also was a three-year representative on the Salisbury Field Hockey Leadership Council. In the local community, her contributions included serving as a classroom aide in an after-school program for students in kindergarten through second grade at the Epoch Dream Center and volunteering at the Hope and Life Outreach homeless shelter.

Annie McCullough

School: Tusculum University
Conference: South Atlantic Conference
Sport: Tennis
Major: Chemistry, with a concentration in mathematics and solar research
Hometown: Belfast, Northern Ireland

“The most important lessons I learned and experiences lived are not measured in awards or accolades given or records set. Rather, I believe it was through the standards and examples I set as a student, athlete, teammate, friend and member of the community that will be my most important legacy.”

Tusculum tennis standout Annie McCullough earned first-team NCAA Division II All-America honors from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in singles and doubles in 2020, ranking second in the nation in doubles and seventh in singles. The 2019 South Atlantic Women’s Tennis Player of the Year helped lead her team to the 2019 conference championship title, and she was named Tusculum’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2018 and 2019. McCullough was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, earning second- team honors in 2019 and first-team honors in 2020, and was recognized as the South Atlantic Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year both years. She was presented the 2020 Tusculum Senior Key Award for Excellence in Chemistry and was a founding member of the hydrogen evolution research program, which is designed to develop a catalyst for use in solar energy applications. McCullough received the 2020 Northeast Tennessee Section of the American Chemical Society Graduating Student Award. On campus, McCullough served as a teaching assistant in the organic chemistry laboratory and was a student tutor for chemistry. She also read to kindergarten students and led drills at youth tennis clinics for the local community.  

Emma Morgan-Bennett

School: Swarthmore College
Conference: Centennial Conference
Sport: Volleyball
Major: Medical anthropology
Hometown: New York City

“As an athlete, I knew volleyball would strengthen my fitness and competitive spirit. However, I underestimated how it would develop my skills as a resilient leader, a collaborative community member and a fearless advocate for equity.”

Swarthmore middle blocker Emma Morgan-Bennett earned honorable mention American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honors in 2018 and honorable mention all-region honors in 2019.  Morgan-Bennett contributed to a quarterfinals run in the 2017 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship. The two-time Academic All-Centennial Team member was named a 2020 Marshall Scholar, one of 46 Americans invited to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Morgan-Bennett was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 2020 and graduated with high honors. Her undergraduate thesis on doulas and the black maternal mortality crisis was recognized by the Telluride Foundation and helped her win the 2020 William and Sophie Bramson Prize, given to an outstanding graduate majoring in sociology and anthropology. Morgan-Bennett was co-president of the Swat Doulas student group and worked as a volunteer doula, serving marginalized populations. She founded Athletics for Diversity and Inclusion, a coalition that centralizes conversations surrounding athletes’ identities and organizes campuswide events, educational programming and community service. Morgan-Bennett also co-founded and served as executive director for Eat at the Table Theatre Company, a nonprofit that allows young actors of color to explore and celebrate race through repurposed and original theater pieces. Throughout college, she was the Swarthmore Athletics Department intern for diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Mikayla Pivec

School: Oregon State University
Conference: Pac-12 Conference
Sports: Basketball, outdoor track and field
Major: BioHealth sciences
Hometown: Lynnwood, Washington

“During my four formative years in Corvallis, international travel experiences and the relationships I nurtured gradually shifted my perspective. … Those experiences significantly influenced my long-term goals and helped prioritize how I plan to make the change I want to see in our world.”

Former Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec earned honorable mention All-America honors from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association in 2020. Pivec helped lead her team to an Elite Eight run in 2018 and Sweet 16 appearances in 2019 and 2017. A semifinalist for the 2020 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, she is one of 20 players in Pac-12 history to surpass 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds, and she holds the Oregon State record for career rebounds with 1,031. Pivec is the only player in program history to finish in the top 10 in career points, rebounds and assists. She also was a starter for the Team USA U-23 team, winning silver at the 2019 Pan American Games. Pivec received first-team CoSIDA Academic-All America honors in 2020 and second-team honors in 2019. The 2020 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year also received a first-team Senior CLASS Award nod in 2020. On campus, Pivec was a three-year Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, serving as volunteer chair, and was co-founder and president of the student-athlete community organization Beavs CARE, which stands for Corvallis Athletes Reaching Everyone. She co-created Selfless Servings, which delivers meals to front-line health care workers and aims to address physician burnout and health care worker stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Asia Seidt

School: University of Kentucky
Conference: Southeastern Conference
Sport: Swimming and diving
Major: Kinesiology — exercise science
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

“I became a driven student, hard-working swimmer and a servant-leader within my community. Being a college athlete gave me the opportunity and resources to develop a positive, impactful voice in the world.”

Former Wildcat swimmer Asia Seidt is an eight-time College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America first-team All-American, with 21 CSCAA All-America career honors. Seidt was the 2017, 2018 and 2019 SEC champion in the 200-yard backstroke and 2018 SEC champion in the 100-yard backstroke. The 2019-20 team captain holds nine school records and earned a silver for Team USA in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2019 World University Games. Seidt was named the 2020 CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-America Female Team Member of the Year, also earning first-team honors in 2019 and third-team honors in 2018. She was a 2019 recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average competing at an NCAA championship finals site. She earned the 2020 H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholar of the Year Award, given to an SEC graduate, and was the 2019 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Seidt was the 2019 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sport Scholar of the Year and was inducted into the University of Kentucky Frank G. Ham Society of Character. Seidt volunteered for three years at Hope Center, a recovery center for alcoholism and substance abuse, and mentored a 10-year-old girl through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She also volunteered for four years with Special Olympics Kentucky and was a four-year member of the Emerging Leaders Committee on campus.

Juah Toe

School: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Conference: Independent
Sport: Rugby
Major: Psychology
Hometown: York, Pennsylvania

“With the help of rugby, I have grown as a person and a player. Finding my own strength in the sport has given me the opportunity to lead women in revealing their own strengths, mentally and physically.”

Former West Chester flanker and two-year team captain Juah Toe led the women’s rugby team to the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rugby Association Tier II Championship title. She was a semifinalist for the 2020 MA Sorensen Award, presented annually to the nation’s top women’s rugby player, and earned honorable mention NIRA All-America recognition in 2018. Toe received NIRA All-Academic Team honors in 2020 and 2019. She was selected as a 2019 recipient of the West Chester 1871 Award for high achievement in academics and co-curricular activities, serving on the award selection committee the following year, and was a semifinalist for the 2019 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. A two-year member of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, she served as 2019-20 vice president, and was a two-year member of the Abbe Society honorary women’s service organization. Toe was heavily involved in the West Chester Honors College and Honors Student Association, including serving as the sports and recreation director for two years and as a student leader at the 2018 Honors College Student Symposium. She also traveled to South Africa in 2018 and 2019 for Honors College study-abroad research and service-learning trips, during which she volunteered at a soup kitchen and a hospice for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS.