The Collegiate Women Sports Awards today announced the five finalists for its annual top honor, the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. The finalists were chosen by a vote from among more than 1,000 NCAA-member institutions, and the winner will be named at a special press conference on June 25th in New York. The winner will receive the prestigious 2007 Honda-Broderick Cup.
This year's five finalists for the Honda-Broderick Cup were chosen from previously announced Honda Sports Award winners in 12 different NCAA-sanctioned sports. They are, in alphabetical order: Monica Abbott, University of Tennessee (softball); Paula Infante, University of Maryland (field hockey); Heather O'Reilly, University of North Carolina (soccer); Candace Parker, University of Tennessee (basketball); and Sarah Pavan, University of Nebraska (volleyball).
In addition to the final five finalists, the other nominees and their sports are: Duke University's Amanda Blumenherst for golf; Northwestern University's 3-time Honda Sports Award winner, Kristen Kjellman for lacrosse; the University of Georgia's Courtney Kupets for gymnastics; the University of Georgia's Kara Lynn Joyce for swimming; Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego for cross-country, Auburn University's, Kerron Stewart for track and field and the University of Miami's Audra Cohen for tennis.
Career Highlights of the Final Five:
Monica Abbott - Abbott is a 6'3" left-hander who holds virtually every career and single-season softball pitching record at the University of Tennessee. She ended her 2007 season and senior year leading the nation with a 50-5 overall record along with a 0.68 ERA and 29 solo shutouts in 358.1 innings. A four-time NFCA All-American with NCAA Division I career records for wins (189), appearances (253), strikeouts (2,440), shutouts (112) and innings pitched (1448.0), she established the single-season strikeout record of 724 during her senior year.
Paula Infante - A native of Santiago, Chile, Infante is a senior midfielder/defender who led her team to its second straight NCAA title this year and earned First Team All-American and First Team All-NCAA Tournament four times in a row. Infante was named All-Mid Atlantic Region and named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Defensive Player of the Year for the second time. She posted 12 goals (five of which were game-winning goals) and earned 30 points this season, finishing her college career with 58 career goals and 139 points. She was also named All-ACC and All-Region for the fourth year in a row. Infante is a two-time winner of the Honda Sports Award.
Heather O'Reilly - A senior forward, O'Reilly captained her team to an NCAA College Cup title this year, and was chosen Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament for the second time in her career. She has the distinction of being ranked as the third highest scorer in NCAA women's soccer tournament history with 15 goals, 14 assists and 44 points. She was a Hermann Trophy finalist this year for the second time and was named the Soccer America National Player of the Year. Additionally, O'Reilly is also a three-time nominee of the Honda Sports Award. She finished her college career with 59 goals and 49 assists for 167 points.
Candace Parker - A 6-foot-4 sophomore, Parker was recently named the John R. Wooden Player of the Year and 2007 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. She has also been named both the SEC Player of the Year and the Basketball Writer's Association Player of the Year. In addition, she is the youngest person to ever receive the State Farm Wade Trophy Player of the Year award. She has scored double digits in every NCAA Tournament game she has played, averaging 19.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game this season. She was named First-team All-America and the Dayton Regional MOP.
Sarah Pavan - A 6'5" junior from Kitchener, Ontario, Pavan led the Huskers to a 33-1 record last year, as well as the school's third national title and the team's #1 NCAA ranking for the entire season. She was named the 2006 NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, 2006 AVCA National Player of the Year and was a recipient of ESPN: The Magazine's 2006 Academic All-American of the Year with a 4.00 GPA in Biochemistry. She led the Big 12 in kills with an average of 5.10 per game, making her 10th in the nation for kills.
In addition to the annual Honda-Broderick Cup, the Collegiate Women's Sports Awards Program also presents its annual "Honda Inspiration Award" to a deserving collegiate female athlete. This year's recipient is Jess Kohut, an NCAA Division III softball player at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). On March 29, 2006, while pitching a double header against Muhlenberg College, Kohut was hit in the face by a line drive traveling at nearly 90 mph. The injury sent her directly to the hospital and ended her season, but she courageously returned this year. Upon her return to softball this spring, she transitioned from pitcher to starting first baseman in order to fill in for another player who had a season ending injury. Since her return, she has also pitched two innings.
The program also honors "Athletes of the Year" from both NCAA Division II and Division III colleges. They are Division II, Metropolitan State College Division II soccer star Kylee Hanavan, and Division III, DePauw University's tennis/basketball standout Liz Bondi.
Additionally, the Irv Grossman Award of Merit will be presented to an individual(s) who has provided service and unique achievement to increase appreciation for and elevate the status of women's collegiate sports on a national level.
Last year's Honda-Broderick Cup winner was soccer superstar Christine Sinclair of the University of Portland. Other past winners of the Honda-Broderick Cup include some of the most talented and accomplished collegiate athletes in recent history: Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track & field, 1984); Mia Hamm (soccer, 1994), Cheryl Miller (basketball, 1983), Ann Meyers (1978, basketball), Tracy Caulkins (1982, 1984, swimming & diving), Chamique Holdsclaw (basketball, 1998) and Lisa Fernandez (softball, 1993). In 2001, Joyner-Kersee was honored as the "Top Collegiate Woman Athlete for the Past 25 Years."
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. sponsors the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program.
Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information