NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Atlantic 10 Conference institutions nominated 13 extraordinary student-athletes for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award. These impressive student-athletes, which were announced Tuesday by the A-10, represent nine sports and 11 different A-10 institutions.
One of the most prestigious NCAA awards, the NCAA established the Woman of the Year Award in 1991 to celebrate the achievements of women in intercollegiate athletics. Now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
The 2017 Atlantic 10 institutional nominees are recognized for being standout citizens with robust academic success, complemented by competitive athletic resumes, while sustaining dynamic leadership in their communities. The 13 candidates have noteworthy credentials, including All-American and Academic All-America honors, conference championships and All-Conference award winners, NCAA Championship success, and campus involvement, including serving as student-athlete leaders. A brief biography of each candidate, listed alphabetically by institution, is below.
The league's Senior Woman Administrators will vote on 12 of the nominees to select two who will represent the Atlantic 10 Conference as 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year finalists. One nominee, gymnast Chelsea Raineri of George Washington, competes in a sport which is not sponsored by the Atlantic 10, and will be considered from among a national pool of candidates.
After the Atlantic 10 and all other leagues have selected up to two conference nominees, the Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees — 10 from each division. From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine. The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.
2017 NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR INSTITUTIONAL HONOREES
Elise Lankiewicz | Davidson College
Women's Swimming & Diving | Hometown: Chadds Ford, Pa. | Major: Biology
A three-time Atlantic 10 Championship Most Outstanding Performer and 2017 NCAA Championship participant, Lankiewicz has earned prestigious distinction during her career, including the Davidson Female Athlete of the Year and the Rebecca A. Stimson Award, given to the female athlete best typifying Davidson spirit in leadership. She was named an Atlantic 10 Postgraduate Scholarship recipient in May, and was an A-10 Academic All-Conference and CSCAA Scholar All-American Honorable Mention for three consecutive years. Lankiewicz was twice named to the Atlantic 10 Commissioner's Honor Roll. She graduated Cum Laude and was a Bryna Scholar, which is awarded to two members of the Davidson class for outstanding academic and athletic contributions. A member of Beta Beta Beta, she also was a team captain at Davidson's Relay for Life event the past three years helping organize teammates and assisting in fundraising for the event. Lankiewicz has also worked as a travel grant advisor for the Dean Rusk International Studies Program and served as a four-year member of Turner Eating House raising funds on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Gabrielle Snyder | University of Dayton
Softball | Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind. | Major: Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Dayton's all-time leader in hits (222), doubles (58) and batting average (.399), Snyder won numerous awards through her four years, including earning the 2017 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award. She was named All-Conference First Team three of her four years and was named A-10 All-Rookie as a freshman. Snyder, who led Dayton to four A-10 Championship appearances and a regular season title, also made the NFCA All-Region team all four years, earning first-team honors as a junior. She is also the Flyers' single-season record holder in in batting average (.429), set during her senior season and doubles (20), set as a sophomore. She won the 2017 RUDY award, given to a UD student-athlete that best exemplifies what it means to be a Dayton Flyer. A member of the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll in each of her semesters, she was a CoSIDA Academic All-District and All-American First Team member in 2017, and was a member of the Atlantic 10 All-Academic team all three years she was eligible. Snyder, who received the Verhoff Summer Research award in 2017, volunteered locally as a youth coach, worked with the Best Buddies program and participated as a volunteer in Dayton's annual Christmas on Campus outreach program.
Autumn Greba | Duquesne University
Women's Cross Country/Track & Field | Hometown: North Huntingdon, Pa. | Majors: English/Philosophy/Political Science
Greba finished in the top three in multiple events in her track career and earned All-Conference First Team honors as a junior in cross country. She placed third at the 2016 A-10 Indoor Track & Field Championship in the 3000m, and then improved on that to place second at the 2017 championship. She was also second place in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2017 A-10 Championship. Greba graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning Dean's List, and A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll distinction all eight semesters. She was named to the A-10 All-Academic teams in cross county, indoor and outdoor track and was CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team in 2016 and 2017. Greba was a nominee and eventual runner-up for the Duquesne McAnulty College of Liberal Arts General Excellence Award. She served as president of the Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership) and the Sigma Tau Delta (international English) honor societies, and was student treasurer and student president of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, where she also was the undergraduate representative to the National Board of Directors. Greba also was a volunteer cross country coach and mentor and she served as an ESL tutor for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. She was the project lead for two GLSEN events: National Coming Out Day Door Decoration, and Trans Day of Remembrance Photograph Collage.
Amadea Szamosi | Duquesne University
Women's Basketball | Hometown: Pécs, Hungary | Major: Accounting/Marketing
A standout forward for Duquesne, Szamosi was an All-Conference Third Team selection as a senior and she was named to the 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Championship Team. She helped lead the Dukes to an A-10 regular season title and back-to-back championship final game appearances, and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a junior. She also was named to the U20 European Championship All-Tournament Team. She was named to the Duquesne Dean's List and Atlantic 10 Commissioner's Honor Roll five times, graduating Cum Laude in May. She has secured internships with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She is an active member of several campus organizations, including the Duquesne Entrepreneurial Alliance, Phi Beta Lambda and Lambda Sigma. Szamosi volunteered her time with the Lupus Loop, the Women's Shelter of Great Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Art Festival, TreeVitalize and Dia los Mujertos.
Nicole Bates | Fordham University
Women's Soccer | Hometown: Basking Bridge, N.J. | Major: Applied Accounting and Finance
A two-time all-conference honoree, Bates amassed several athletic and academic honors over her four years at Fordham. In 2016, she was named first team All-Atlantic 10 and was also named NSCAA 3rd Team All-Mid Atlantic. During her junior campaign, she received second team All-Atlantic 10 honors and was named to the all-championship team after helping lead the Rams to the A-10 championship game. A four-year member of the Atlantic 10 Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Dean's List, she was named First Team Academic All-District I, Atlantic 10 All-Academic and a NSCAA Scholar All East selection. Bates also volunteered with several organizations while on campus including POTS, Susan's Place and Jacob's Place.
Michelle Wallerstedt | George Mason University
Women's Track & Field | Hometown: Omaha, Neb. | Major: Integrative Studies (Concentration in Life Sciences)
A USTFCCCA Second Team All-American, Wallerstedt is a two-time conference individual champion in the discus throw. She is a three-time NCAA preliminary qualifier and finished 15th in the discus throw at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Wallerstedt was a member of four A-10 championship teams and twice earned NCAA Academic All-American honors. She has been named to the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll three times and has been on the George Mason University Dean's List for six straight semesters. In addition to having served on the George Mason Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Athletic Council and the President's Student Advisory Group. She has served as a youth track and field coach for the Cornhusker Flyers and received the Susan Collins Leadership Award for Women in Sport at George Mason.
Chelsea Raineri | The George Washington University
Women's Gymnastics | Hometown: Telford, Pa. | Major: Sports Management
A 2017 NCAA Regional Champion, Raineri has earned All-Conference honors 11 times from the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL). She earned first-team honors on the vault (four times), floor exercise (twice) and the uneven bars, and second team honors on floor exercise and uneven bars. She helped lead the Colonials to 2015 and 2017 EAGL titles and won the 2017 GW Red Auerbach Award and was the Colonials Female Rookie of the Year in 2013. Raineri earned academic honors in the fall of 2013, spring of 2015 and spring of 2017 and was on the EAGL All-Academic team in 2014. Very active in the community, Raineri volunteered her time with multiple organizations, including Special Olympics. Colonial harvest, Buddy Walk, Race to Beat Cancer, Martha's Table and the DC Food Bank. She also participated in GW's Leadership Academy as a junior and senior, and was a team captain.
Layne Self | University of Rhode Island
Volleyball | Hometown: Hawthorn Woods, Ill. | Major: Nursing
An All-Conference honoree, Self was named First Team All-Conference as a senior and All-East Region Honorable Mention. She also earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a junior and was named to the All-Rookie team as a freshman. She was named the A-10 Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week seven times over her career. Self made the Dean's List in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. She was a member of the Rhode Island Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, serving as secretary in 2015. Self also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and participated in the Work the World nursing program in Ghana.
Mary Allen | University of Richmond
Women's Track & Field | Hometown: Richmond, Va. | Major: Sociology
Allen, a team captain for the 2016-17 season, was the Atlantic 10's 200-meter champion at the 2017 A-10 Indoor Track & Field Championships and the bronze medalist in the 400-meters. She also was the silver medalist in the 200-meters at the 2017 Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She was the recipient of the William L. Lumpkin Leadership Award which is presented to a senior member of the University of Richmond track & field program that demonstrates outstanding academic and athletic performance and citizenship. During her time on campus, Allen co-founded the leadership group For the Culture and was a Minority Student Pre-Orientation staff member. She additionally interned with Youth Life and served as a mentor at Henderson Middle School.
Leslie Espenschied | University of Richmond
Women's Lacrosse | Hometown: Saint Simons Island, Ga. | Major: Business Administration (Concentration in Marketing and Finance)
A two-time A-10 Second Team All-Conference honoree, Espenschied helped lead the Spiders to four consecutive A-10 Women's Lacrosse Championship game appearances. A four-time member of the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll and University of Richmond Scholar Athlete, Espenschied also was awarded the Presidential Citation Award given to the senior student-athlete with the highest GPA. She was also named to the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference team in 2016 and 2017, and was the Robins School of Business Student Athlete of the Year in 2016. She was named to the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll and earned Dean's list every semester. She has been very active in the community during her time at Richmond including, serving as the publicity chair for Mortar Board and as a member of the Omicorn Delta Kappa Leadership Society and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
Jennifer Morris | St. Bonaventure University
Women's Soccer | Hometown: Copley, Ohio | Major: Engineering Physics
Morris, a four-year member of the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Dean's List, was named to the Women's Soccer All-Academic Team in 2016. She graduated from St. Bonaventure in only 3 ½ years, earning the Merit Award for significant athletic and academic achievement along with being a member of Sigma Pi Si, the physics honors society. Morris also was heavily involved with volunteer work, participating in town cleanups, working with SBU Orion Astronomy Club, volunteering with the SPCA and serving as a physics lab assistant and tutor. She also spent time volunteering with the Special Olympics and the annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk.
Emily Gingrich | Saint Joseph's University
Women's Soccer | Hometown: Shillington, Pa. | Major: Criminal Justice
Gingrich, a two-time First Team All-Conference selection, is the Hawks' all-time leader in points (103) and goals (43). During her senior season, she led SJU to its first-ever Atlantic 10 Regular season title en route to being named Midfielder of the Year. She is only the second player in school history to earn A-10 All-Conference honors all four years. Gingrich received the University's Class of 1950 Award presented to the top graduating female student-athlete. She was also named to the Saint Joseph's University Athletic Director's Honor Roll and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She volunteered with team members to clean up local communities, collected items for Easter donations and also helped operate youth soccer clinics.
Kacey Bright | Saint Louis University
Women's Soccer | Hometown: Fenton, Mo. | Major: Exercise Science
Bright, the 2016 A-10 Women's Soccer Defensive Player of the Year, was also named First Team All-Conference during her senior campaign. She was named NSCAA Mid-Atlantic All-Region first team and was Senior CLASS Award nominee. Bright received an A-10 Postgraduate Scholarship and was named to the 2016 NSCAA Division I Scholar All-America Second Team. She is a six-time A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll recipient and a five-time member of the Dean's List. She was named to the 2016 A-10 All-Academic Team and was a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 Team. She served as the secretary for the Saint Louis Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, volunteered with the Saint Louis University Health Resource Center, Relay for Life, SPENSA and several other organizations.