Yarbrough and Willocks Chosen as 2019 Atlantic 10 NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Two outstanding former Atlantic 10 Conference female student-athletes have been selected as the league’s nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Davidson’s Caroline Yarbrough and Anna Willocks of Saint Joseph’s University were announced Thursday as the conference candidates for one of the NCAA’s most prestigious honors.
Both student-athletes completed their eligibility this past year. They were selected from a pool of 12 exceptional institutional nominees, representing seven A-10 sports and 10 different A-10 institutions. Yarbrough, a cross country/track & field student athlete, and Willocks, a field hockey student-athlete, were chosen as the conference nominees by the Atlantic 10’s Senior Woman Administrators (SWAs) based on their athletic achievements, academic prowess, community involvement and leadership abilities. Both A-10 candidates have remarkable resumes in all four areas.
“Caroline and Anna have clearly distinguished themselves throughout their careers,” Atlantic 10 Senior Associate Commissioner and Senior Woman Administrator Debbie Richardson stated. “Their consistent commitment to excellence embodies the student-athlete concept and emphasizes academic accomplishment, athletic distinction, service and leadership. The Atlantic 10 is proud to recognize their achievements as our NCAA Woman of the Year nominees.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee will select the top 30 (10 per division), and then will narrow the list to the top nine finalists (three per division) in late September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine. The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 20 in Indianapolis.
Yarbrough wrapped up her stellar four years on the trails and on the track with a league title in the 10,000-meter run and her second consecutive trip to the NCAA East Regional. The Greensboro, N.C., native earned Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors four times overall during her senior year between cross country, indoor and outdoor track. Yarbrough was an integral part of Davidson’s distance squad earning 16 All-Conference team nods, seven All-Academic team selections and racing to four individual league titles. The 2016 A-10 Cross Country Rookie of the Year finished her career on the track with 123 total points in A-10 Championship meets, the most in school history, never finishing lower than fifth place.
Yarbrough earned The Rebecca Stimson Award – given to the Davidson senior female athlete who has best demonstrated an outstanding dedication and contribution to intercollegiate athletics (2019), The Helen DeVane Carnegie Award – Presented to Davidson's most outstanding freshman athlete (2015), and The Davidson Most Valuable Athlete award (Cross Country-2015, 2019), (Indoor Track-2016, 2019), (Outdoor Track-2016, 2019) for her athletic prowess.
Yarbrough’s academic achievements include graduating Magna Cum Laude (2019), Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society (2019), Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society (2017-2019) and Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society (2017-2019). She also earned The Geoffrey Owen McAllen Scholarship in 2018, a scholarship awarded to senior Art major in recognition of their academic achievements and passion for art and learning akin to the late Geoffrey Owen McAllen.
An art history major, Yarbrough was named to each of the cross country, indoor, and outdoor track & field A-10 All-Academic teams multiple times including all three in her senior season and was also added to the Google Cloud Academic All-District and USTFCCCA All-Academic Teams for the second straight year.
In addition to her work in the classroom and on the track, Yarbrough served on the Davidson Honor Council and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, was a SEED20 venture philanthropy coach and the founding co-editor of the Davidson History Journal.
“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive the Atlantic 10's nomination for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award,” Yarbrough said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to represent Davidson and the A-10 in this award competition. I feel very fortunate to have competed in the A-10 and NCAA as a student-athlete and am profoundly thankful for this recognition.”
Willocks graduated as the most decorated student-athlete in SJU field hockey history, and among the most accomplished student-athletes to ever don the Crimson and Gray in any sport. She is the first three-time NFHCA All-America honoree in program history; after a pair of Second Team honors, she became the second First Team selection in Saint Joseph's field hockey history in 2018. Willocks is the first student-athlete to be named the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year three times, having won the award three consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2017. The Hawks all-time leader in goals, assists, and points, she led the Hawks to two conference championships and three consecutive championship final appearances. Willocks is a four-time All-Conference First Team selection, and was also named the league's Rookie of the Year in 2015.
The psychology major form Palmerston North, New Zealand made the Dean’s List, Academic Distinction List, and AD Honor Roll every semester during her time at Saint Joseph’s and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2019. She was named to the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, is a two-time A-10 All-Academic Team honoree and a two-time Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Performer of the Year and team honoree. Willocks earned the Saint Joseph’s University Class of ’50 Award given annually to a student athlete who has had a distinguished.
In addition to her time spent on the field and in the classroom, Willocks volunteered regularly in her community aiding students with Autism at the Kinney Center, Serving underprivileged youth at Gompers Elementary School and MLK High School, fundraising for Kisses for Kyle, and collecting donations for Cradles to Crayons.
“I don't really know what to say, except for thank you,” Willocks said. “Thank you to the Atlantic 10 for the last four years of competition and as selecting me as one of their nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year, it is an incredible honor. Thank you to Saint Joseph's University and Athletic Staff for making my academic and athletic career possible and thank you to my team, coaches and players, the amazing women I was surrounded and influenced by every day.”
Last year, Heather MacLean, a former Massachusetts track and field and cross country standout, was one of the nine finalists invited to Indianapolis.