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2007 NCAA Woman of the Year

Whitney Myers, University of Arizona


Arizona's Myers picked as Woman of the Year

By Leilana McKindra
The NCAA News, November 5, 2007

Whitney Myers, 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year

Former University of Arizona swimmer Whitney Myers reacts to being named the 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year. Myers is the second recipient from Arizona and the fifth swimmer to earn the award. Trevor Brown Jr./NCAA Photos.

Former University of Arizona swimming standout Whitney Myers was named as the 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year at the annual dinner October 27 in Indianapolis.

She is the second NCAA Woman of the Year from Arizona and the fifth swimming student-athlete to earn the honor.

The NCAA Woman of the Year award recognizes female student-athletes who have completed their eligibility and demonstrated excellence in academic pursuits, athletics, community service and leadership. A committee composed of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences selected the top 30 out of 128 conference and independent nominees, 10 from each division.

From the 30 honorees, nine finalists - three from each division - were chosen. The Committee on Women's Athletics selected Myers from the nine finalists.

In accepting the 17th annual honor, a surprised and emotional Myers praised each of the evening's honorees.

"I wish I could break off a piece of the award for each of these girls because they all deserve it," Myers said. "This award encompasses the whole person, not just your athletics achievements or academic achievements or how many hours you give back to the community. It's how well rounded you are. All of the women here tonight have done an awesome job at developing the whole person. The whole package - that's what you see here tonight."

The whole package also is what you get with Myers, who stressed that she has always viewed her roles as student and athlete as equally important. There were times when she had to miss class for a meet and days when she missed practice to study for a test, and Myers thanked her coaches and teachers who supported her efforts in the pool and in the classroom.

Myers also credited her parents and Becky Bell, a member of Arizona's athletics department staff. "I don't really have any athletics role models. Athletics has taught me a lot about having great character, but athletics ends and that's why I've turned to role models who succeed in their whole lives."

Myers, a science education major with an emphasis in biology/pre-pharmacy, could easily fit into her own definition of a role model. In addition to classes and student teaching in a high school biology class three days a week, Myers is eyeing a run at the 2008 Olympics. A five-event qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Trials in June, she plans to spend the spring semester training.

"The Olympics is the ultimate achievement. To compete for your country is such a huge honor, and because of that, you put pressure on yourself," Myers said. "I'm learning to embrace that challenge, not shy away from it."

Myers' message to young aspiring athletes is along those same lines. Do it all, she said.

"You'll be standing next to someone from another school, you'll race until blood comes out of your ears and it'll be a great competition. Then you'll turn around and say "How's your family," Myers said. "Another great part of sports is learning how to turn things on and off, knowing how to be a fierce competitor but also knowing how to be a humble winner or loser."

Myers clearly has learned how to balance that fierce competitor with the humble winner or loser. Though she isn't sure what led to her being selected as the Woman of the Year, she is certain that it could have been any one of the finalists.

"I'll take the title of NCAA Woman of the Year and carry it with pride, but I know anyone else could be in my place and I?d be just as happy for them."

Myers' academic prowess earned her first-team academic all-American and first-team Pacific-10 all-academic honors for four consecutive years. She twice earned the Mary Roby Academic Achievement Award and was the winner of the 2003 Arizona Distinguished Scholar Award.

A first-team all-American in seven swimming events and a top-three finisher at the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in eight events, she holds 14 school records and is a two-time NCAA record holder. A member of the U.S. Women's National Team for three years (2004, 2005, 2006), Myers finished third at the 2004 Olympic Trials and fourth at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.

Myers was team captain, co-president of the student-athlete advisory board, pre-pharmacy club liaison, student-teacher club member, group leader in the sponsorship of a low-income family and founder and director of a local swim clinic. She worked closely with local Girl Scout troops, elementary schools and retirement communities, and represented her university through many speaking engagements. A volunteer at a pharmacy, Myers also visited the children's ward at the University Medical Center.

NCAA President Myles Brand attended the dinner and commended the honorees for their accomplishments.

"The overriding impression that I have of these young women tonight is their academic achievement, community selflessness and their potential to be leaders of tomorrow. It's clear in hearing their stories that they are concerned and devoted to improving the human condition," Brand said. "These young women have committed to being leaders for positive change. I'm gratified at their willingness to do good for others and I encourage them to embrace every opportunity they have to make a difference in our world."

National basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli and SportsCenter and ESPNews anchor Sage Steele emceed the NCAA Woman of the Year dinner, which will be rebroadcast December 7 on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.


Woman of the Year finalists announced

Th NCAA News, September 24, 2007

The NCAA has chosen nine finalists for the 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year.

This year's finalists are: Shauneen Garrahan, Amherst College (cross country, track and field), New England Small College Athletic Conference; Felicia Guliford, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (cross country, track and field), Southeastern Conference; Ana Gutierrez, Seattle University (soccer), Great Northwest Athletic Conference; Jessica Javelet, University of Louisville (field hockey), Big East Conference; Whitney Myers, University of Arizona (swimming and diving), Pacific-10 Conference; Ashley Parker, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) (track and field), Division III independents; Debbie Sharnak, Vassar College (tennis), Liberty League; Sarah Shearman, Truman State University (volleyball), Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association; and Jamie Wolf, Clarion University of Pennsylvania (swimming and diving), Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The honor recognizes outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, academics, leadership and service.

The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will choose the 2007 NCAA Woman of the Year from among the nine finalists. The winner will be announced during the 17th annual awards dinner October 27 in Indianapolis. ESPN's Sage Steele and Debbie Antonelli will serve as emcees for the evening. Steele is the SportsCenter update anchor for two ESPN morning shows and Antonelli is a veteran women's basketball television analyst who also has been a radio analyst for the CBS/NCAA Network for the past nine Women's Final Fours.

While in Indianapolis, Woman of the Year honorees also will participate in a community-service project for Habitat for Humanity.

The 2006 Woman of the Year was Anne Bersagel, a former cross country and track and field student-athlete at Wake Forest.

Following are some of the accomplishments of this year's Woman of the Year finalists:


Shauneen Garrahan, Amherst College
New England Small College Athletic Conference
Cross country and indoor and outdoor track

Academic achievements: Graduated in May of 2007 and majored in psychology and political science. Three-time New England Small College Athletic Conference all-academic honoree, 2005-07. Recipient of the Amherst College Senior Student-Athlete Award given to an exemplary senior athlete based on academics, community involvement and athletics prowess, 2007. Intercollegiate Studies Institute Honors Fellow, 2007-08. Recipient of the Psi Upsilon Prize, awarded to a member of the graduating class considered pre-eminent in scholarship, leadership, athletics and character, 2007. Co-author of article published in The Indicator, Amherst's student journal of social and political thought, 2006.

Athletics achievements: 2008 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 3,000 meters and the steeplechase. Recipient of Amherst's Mossman Trophy, which is given to the senior student-athlete who has brought the greatest honor through athletics to their alma mater, 2007. Two-time captain of the cross country and track and field teams. NCAA Division III 10,000 meter, 5,000 meter national champion, 2007. Two-time NCAA national champion in the steeplechase, 2005 and 2007. Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships Performer of the Meet, 2007. Thirteen-time track and field (six indoors and seven outdoors) and two-time cross country all-American. U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches of America New England Region Athlete of the Year, 2007.

Service and leadership: President of the Newman Club (a Catholic student organization). AmericaReads tutor. Lead and assistant religious education instructor. Co-chair of The Inklings (a philosophy of religion discussion group). Substitute elementary school teacher. Mead Art Museum attendant. Chair of the Amherst College Republicans. Volunteer with Amherst 3-D (a service organization for children and teens with mental and physical disabilities).

Excerpt from personal statement: For one thing, being a student-athlete has taught me the importance of confidence. Whether it is for an exam or a race, I have found that I perform my best when I approach challenges with a confident attitude, knowing that my hours of hard work are going to pay off as long as I put forth my best efforts.


Felicia Guliford, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Southeastern Conference
Cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field

Academic achievements: Graduated in August of 2007 and double majored in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and Spanish. ESPN the Magazine first-team Academic All-District IV track and field/cross country team, 2007. ESPN the Magazine second-team Academic All-District IV track and field/cross country team, 2005. Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association Academic All-American, 2004. Southeastern Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll, 2003. SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2003-06. Nine-time Dean's List honoree. Lady Vol Honor Roll, 2003-07.

Athletics achievements: Team captain and team peer mentor, 2006-07. First-team All-American in track and field, 2005. Member of Tennessee's first NCAA track and field team championship (indoor), 2005. Member of Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field championship team, 2005 and 2007. SEC champion in the indoor 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter, 2005. SEC champion in the outdoor 5,000 meter, 2005. Member of four NCAA South Region championships and three SEC team titles in cross country. First-team All-SEC in cross country, 2004 and 2005. NCAA All-South Region in cross country, 2002, 2004 and 2005. One of three Lady Vols all-time to appear in four NCAA Cross Country National Championships during her career.

Service and leadership: Volunteer at the Free Medical Clinic for Working Poor and Catholic Charities. Coordinated after-school and weekend activities for children in a low-income subdivision as part of Montgomery Village Children's Outreach. Organized and conducted day camps for students ages 5-18 on Native American reservations as part of WINGS Running and Fitness Camps. Lady Vol Community Service Award winner, track and field, 2007. SEC Good Works Team selection, 2006. Miss Tennessee recipient at UT Athletics' VOLSCARS Awards, recognizing her as the female UT student-athlete who best demonstrated the traits of service, leadership, academics and athletics, 2007. Brad Davis SEC Community Service Award, 2007.

Excerpt from personal statement: Community service, a huge part of our Lady Vol program, has enriched and benefited my life much more than I had ever thought it could. I know that the purpose of community service is to give to others, but every time I work with someone in need I feel like they have given so much more to me than I could give in return.


Ana Gutierrez, Seattle University
Great Northwest Athletic Conference

Academic achievements: Graduated summa cum laude in June 2007; majored in sociology and Spanish and minored in cultural anthropology. CoSIDA academic all-District VIII, 2005 and 2006. Great Northwest Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2006-07. First team academic all-American, 2006. GNAC all-academic selection, 2004-06. President's List, 2004-06. Dean's List, 2006-07.

Athletics achievements: Team captain, 2004-07. Member of Seattle's GNAC championship teams, 2003 and 2006. First team all-GNAC, 2003-06. First team Far West Region selection, 2004-06. GNAC Freshman of the Year, 2003.

Service and leadership: Volunteer at El Centro de La Raza Community Center. Tutored elementary school children in after school literacy program. Tutored fifth graders on Muckleshoot Indian Reservation. Eucharistic minister and lector in the Campus Ministry. Study abroad in Puebla, Mexico, 2005.

Excerpt from personal statement: As a member of the women's soccer team and a student of an integrated community, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience the integrity and strength of a bond created between a group of people and the differences that group can make. My experiences of laughter, tears, blood, sweat, the burden of loss and the incredible feeling of success both on and off the field are responsible for empowering me as a confident, passionate and dedicated woman.


Jessica Javelet, University of Louisville
Big East Conference
Field hockey

Academic achievements: Graduated in May 2007 with a 4.0 grade-point average and majored in marketing. Valedictorian of the School of Business, 2007. University of Louisville Outstanding Graduating Senior, 2007. NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner, 2007. NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship finalist, 2007. Big East/Aeropostale Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, 2007. University of Louisville Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, 2007. ESPN CoSIDA Academic all-American (women's at-large) first team. National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I first team all-America selection, 2003-06. Most Valuable Seller in Student Marketing Association, 2007.

Athletics achievements: U.S. National Field Hockey Team, 2006-07. U.S. National U-21 Field Hockey Team, 2005. Honda Award finalist, 2005. Big East Offensive Player of the Year, 2006. Big East Co-offensive Player of the Year, 2005. Team vice captain, 2006-07. Member of Big East regular season co-championship team, 2006. Big East first team all-conference selection, 2005 and 2006. Holds school career records for goals (69), assists (38) and points (176); established single-season records for goals (30), assists (14) and points (74); and holds single-game records for goals (5) and points (12).

Service and leadership: Volunteer for the After School Community Center, Silent Metro Fantasy Football League (for the deaf) and deaf bowling. Kentucky Youth Field Hockey Association and International Field Hockey Club of Kentucky coach. High school girls' lacrosse coach. Graduation commencement speaker, 2007. WLCV campus radio, program director. Chi Alpha Sigma (athletics honor society), president, 2006-07.

Excerpt from personal statement: In collegiate sports, everybody has amazing skill, but what separates the great from the good is a degree of dedication and mental strength. I've learned that sacrifice and self-discipline aren't punishment, but a mindset of accepting nothing less than your true potential.


Whitney Myers, University of Arizona
Pacific-10 Conference
Swimming and diving

Academic achievements: Science education in biology/pre-pharmacy major. Four-time first team academic all-American, 2004-07. Four-time first team Pacific-10 Conference all-academic selection. Arizona Academic Champion Distinguished Scholar, award by the athletics department. Two-time University of Arizona Academic Champion. Dean's List.

Athletics achievements: Member of the U.S. National Women's Swimming and Diving Team, 2004-06. Finished third at 2004 Olympic Trials. Finished fourth at 2005 and 2007 FINA World Championships. USA Swimming Golden Goggles Award winner for Female Performance of the Year, 2006. 2008 Olympic Trials qualifier in five events. Honda Award finalist, 2006 and 2007. Gold medalist in the 200 meter individual medley and Female Swimmer of the Meet at the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. Team captain, 2004-07. Three-time NCAA individual and two-time relay champion, 2006 and 2007. Pacific-10 individual and relay champion, 2006. Holds 14 school records.

Service and leadership: Co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, 2006-07. Vice co-chair of Pacific-10 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Founder and director of local swim clinic, 2004 and 2006. Speaker for local Girl Scouts troop. Volunteer reader at local elementary schools. Volunteered for Race for the Cure and Fiesta Bowl Youth Football Challenge. Visited the children's ward at a local hospital and a local home for underprivileged children.

Excerpt from personal statement: Participation in collegiate swimming has allowed me to continue to build self-esteem while teaching me to believe in my abilities and preparation when the competition is at its most fierce. While I have experienced more success than disappointments, I have learned to always try my best while striving for excellence, not perfection.


Ashley Parker, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania)
Division III Independents
Indoor and outdoor track and field

Academic achievements: Health science major. Expected graduation date December 2007. Lincoln University Dean's List honoree. National Dean's List selection. Who's Who Among Students at American Universities and Colleges for Academic Excellence and Leadership, 2007. Recipient of the women's indoor track and field award for the highest grade-point average. Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Women's Track and Field Athlete of the Year. ESPN the Magazine third team academic all-American. Three-time winner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Academic Excellence Award while attending Delaware State University between 2003-05.

Athletics achievements: Team captain, 2006-07. Member of NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field national championship team, 4 x 400, 2006. Top-three finisher at the Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400, 2006. Six-time all-American. Earned second- and third-place finishes in 400-meter and 55-meter dashes at Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, 2007. Top-five finisher in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, 2007.

Service and leadership: Volunteered at the Atlantic Care Regional Medical Center. Member of the National Society for Negro Women. Big Sister, Little Sister program volunteer. Special Olympics instructor. High school assistant track coach. Summer enrichment program counselor. Organized intramural basketball tournaments. Recipient of Lincoln's Sportsmanship Award for women's indoor track and field. Teaching assistant and tutor in the health science department at Lincoln University. First female in Delaware State University history to attend the Senior Woman Administrators/Athletics Directors Conference, 2004-05.

Excerpt from personal statement: Despite the many trials and tribulations, tears and happiness, and wins and losses, there are five major qualities I have gained by being a student-athlete "character, patience, discipline, teamwork and time management".I have really benefited from my experience as a student-athlete and the experience has equipped me with the tools to be successful and will last a lifetime. *First NCAA Woman of the Year finalist from a Historically Black College or University.


Debbie Sharnak, Vassar College
Liberty League

Academic achievements: Graduated with departmental honors in May of 2007 and majored in history and political science. NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, 2007. Truman Scholar national finalist, 2006. Presidential fellow for the Center of the Study of the Presidency, 2005-06. Three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete. Three-time Liberty League all-academic team selection. Seven Sisters Senior Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, 2007. New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete Award winner, 2007. Edwin H. Sherman Family Prize winner for outstanding undergraduate paper in force and diplomacy at Temple University, 2007.

Athletics achievements: Two-time team captain. Two-time first team all-American. Liberty League player of the year, 2006. Liberty League rookie of the year, 2003. Played No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles for seven of eight semesters on the tennis squad. Helped Vassar win four straight Liberty and NYSWCAA titles and four NCAA national championships tournament berths. Vassar College Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year, 2007. Three-time NCAA Division III championships singles qualifier.

Service and leadership: CARES (Counseling and Assistance in Response to Rape and Exploitive Sexual Activity) Counselor. Academic tutor for students ages 10-17. Farm hand on the Vassar organic farm. Taught at free youth tennis clinics. National Committee on American Foreign Policy, intern, 2007. Global Justice Center, intern, 2006-07. Office of Congressman Rush Holt (New Jersey), intern, 2004. Eyes on the International Criminal Court (journal), editor. Volunteer at a women's shelter.

Excerpt from personal statement: My time on and off the court has prepared me to challenge the limits of what others might believe can be accomplished, and to never give up on my goals, no matter what life throws my way.


Sarah Shearman, Truman State University
Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association;

Academic achievements: Graduated in May 2006 and majored in psychology. ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA first team academic all-American. Four-time all-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association all-academic selection. Three-time MIAA Commissioner's Honor Roll honoree. President's Honor List and Vice President's Honor Roll selection. Inducted into Kappa Delta Pi (future teachers honor society). Completed undergraduate degree in three years and used final year of eligibility to begin master's degree in education.

Athletics achievements: Two-time first team all-American. American Volleyball Coaches Association national freshman of the year. MIAA Freshman of the Year, 2003. Member of three regular season and four MIAA tournament championship teams. Member of two NCAA regional championship teams. Two-time NCAA Elite Eight all-tournament team selection. Member of the starting lineup of the 2004 NCAA Division II national championship match. MIAA Most Valuable Player, 2006. Three-time all-MIAA selection.

Service and leadership: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 2003-06. Participated in service trip to Oklahoma to repair youth camp damaged by storms, 2004. Volunteer for an after-school reading program, 2005. Counselor for summer girls basketball/volleyball camp.

Excerpt from personal statement: My student-athlete career has provided priceless opportunities of growth that will be forever a part of who I am. Along with the glories of competing, there were difficulties that surfaced that challenged my character and my beliefs. I have learned that grace is the way, patience and understanding earn trust, respect is critical and self-control is a choice.


Jamie Wolf, Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference
Swimming and diving

Academic achievements: Graduated in May of 2007 and majored in molecular biology and biotechnology. Four-time academic all-American. Inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Fraternity, 2006-07. Barry Goldwater Scholarship nominee, 2006. Clarion University Foundation Grant and Clarion University Wide Undergraduate Research Grant awardee, 2005. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologist Conference, third place, molecular biology poster presentation, 2006. Dean's List.

Athletics achievements: Team captain, 2006-07. First seven-time national champion in Division II diving. First four-time national champion in Division II three-meter diving. Eight-time all-American. Three-time NCAA Diver of the Year, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Two-time Clarion University Athlete of the Year, 2005 and 2006. Clarion record holder in the 10-dive 1-meter, 11-dive 3-meter and 6-dive 3-meter events. Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record holder in the 10-dive 1-meter and 11-dive 3-meter events.

Service and leadership: Member of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Fraternity and served as secretary. Member of the Student Honors Association and served as a member of the community service committee. Manager of an undergraduate research laboratory. Member of Heath Careers Club and served as secretary and president. Participated in canned food drive, Clarion Dance Marathon and Operation Clean Sweep. Taught swimming lessons.

Excerpt from personal statement: Many years of diving have proven to me that success is not measured by the number of "wins?" under your belt. Success, in my opinion, is simply defined as trying your best.


Award field narrowed to 30 female athletes

By Leilana McKindra
The NCAA News, August 27, 2007

The NCAA has announced the top 30 nominees for the 17th annual Woman of the Year Award.

The honor recognizes outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics and community leadership, and have completed their collegiate athletics eligibility.

A committee composed of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences chose the nominees — 10 from each NCAA division — from 128 conference and independent nominees. From the group of 30, the top nine finalists will be selected and announced in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will choose a national winner from among the top nine finalists. The 2007 Woman of the Year will be announced during the annual awards dinner October 27 in Indianapolis.

The 2006 Woman of the Year was Anne Bersagel, a former cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field standout from Wake Forest University.