SRU grad Anderson named one of nine finalists for NCAA Woman of the Year

Sabrina Anderson

Slippery Rock University graduate Sabrina Anderson has been named one of the nine national finalists for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award, as announced by the NCAA Wednesday.

Sept. 28, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA has announced that former Slippery Rock University track and field standout Sabrina Anderson of Warren is one of the nine national finalists for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Anderson, who is a two-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, a conference record holder and a three-time Academic All-American, becomes the first SRU student-athlete in the 27-year history of the NCAA Woman of the Year award to be named a national finalist.

Established in 1991 and now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes that have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.

A record 543 women across the three NCAA divisions were nominated by institutions for the Woman of the Year award this summer. Following the initial nominating process by the schools, conferences then selected up to two candidates to send forward from the pool of school nominees. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, then chose the top 30 honorees -- 10 from each division - to receive an invitation to the annual awards banquet. From those 30 women, the committee narrowed it down to the nine finalists, three from each division, which was announced Sept. 27.

The 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be unveiled at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis. Anderson, her family and members of the SRU athletic department and athletic communication office will attend the event.

"It's hard to put into words how incredible Sabrina's career has been," said Paul Lueken, SRU director of athletics. "Her list of accomplishments includes some of the most prestigious honors available for a Division II student-athlete and being a national finalist for the Woman of the Year award is a fitting addition to that list. We're very proud to call her our own and fortunate to have her as such an outstanding ambassador for Slippery Rock University, our track and field program and our athletic department."

Anderson, who received her master's degree in business administration this summer after just four years at SRU, was named the PSAC Pete Nevins Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. She took 30 graduate credits in 2016-17 heading into the summer and posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in those courses. In addition to her graduate work, Anderson took 143 undergraduate credits in just three years and received her bachelor's degree in exercise science in 2016 after posting a 3.91 cumulative GPA.

She was a three-time Academic All-American, including a two-time first team selection, and was one of only four Division II women in the nation to earn three Academic All-America honors in the sports of cross country or track and field.

Anderson was the fifth woman in the history of the Pete Nevins award to win two PSAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and was just the second woman in league history to be named to six PSAC Top 10 teams during her career, making the squad in every season she was eligible.

In addition to her academic success, Anderson was an All-PSAC finisher in the multi-event competition six times and was a three-time PSAC champion in the indoor pentathlon. She broke the all-time conference record in the event in 2016 with 3,818 points, placing fifth at the National Championships and earning first team All-America honors. Her third and final league title in the event came last winter, while competing on two torn ankle ligaments that required surgery after the season. In total, Anderson won five individual PSAC titles, earned 10 All-Conference honors, was a two-time All-American and helped The Rock to three PSAC team titles.

"Sabrina has been a perfect example of what we want the student-athletes in our program to strive for," said John Papa, head track and field coach. "She not only worked extremely hard to be the best athlete that she could be, but she also put everything she had into her academic work and she left SRU with an incredibly bright future ahead of her. We're very much looking forward to going out to Indy to celebrate this tremendous accomplishment with her next month."

In addition to academic and athletic excellence, the third piece of criteria for the NCAA Woman of the Year award is service and leadership, which Anderson also excelled at during her career at SRU. The majority of that service came in a volunteer and eventually an unpaid intern role at Specialty Orthopaedics, where she worked with individuals with disabilities in helping them discover strength and confidence through physical fitness and personal wellness.

Rather than elaborate on her accolades in her personal statement that is required for the Woman of the Year nomination, Anderson reflected on how being a student-athlete at SRU gave her the chance to impact others.

"My time as an NCAA student-athlete has given me school and conference records, trips to nationals and countless friends, but I am most proud of the opportunities it has given me to impact other people," said Anderson.

"On my first day volunteering at Specialty Orthopaedics, I was touring the facility when I met Adam (named changed for confidentiality). I quickly learned that Adam was a regular at the gym. Though he'd been suffering from a degenerative disorder since childhood and could only achieve mobility with the use of crutches, Adam never missed a gym day. He came to stretch, to strengthen the muscles of which he still had use, and to make every effort he could to prevent further deterioration of his legs. I was instantly drawn to this warrior's indomitable will, and we became fast friends. Soon after I started volunteering, I was Adam's principal trainer. We competed in pushup challenges, debated theories of business and engineering between lifts and shared stories of our favorite books over milkshakes. Adam taught me the definition of determination, the power of positivity and the importance of integrity. He taught me to be brave and to keep moving forward through challenges or failures. I spent two summers with Adam, a man who refused to let his disability limit him, and though it was my responsibility to help him, I found that he ended up changing my life in the process."

In addition to her efforts at Specialty Orthopaedics, Anderson also spent time during her college career volunteering with the Special Olympics, working with the Adopt-a-Highway program, volunteering at Home 2 Me nursing home and at the Warren General Hospital.

Before being celebrated by the NCAA in October, Anderson will be recognized by the PSAC office at the SRU home football game against California (Pa.) Sept. 30. The league commissioner is traveling to The Rock to present Anderson with her second straight Division II Conference Commissioner's Association Regional Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, in addition to recognizing her for being named a Woman of the Year finalist.

In addition to Anderson, other 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year finalists include:

-Serena Barr, Liberty University (field hockey)

-Jenny Carmichael, University of Oklahoma (track and field)

-Eliana Crawford, Kenyon College (swimming and diving)

-Lizzy Crist, Washington University in St. Louis (soccer)

-Kaina Martinez, Texas A&M Kingsville (track and field)

-Christina Melian, Stony Brook University (cross country, track and field)

-Natalie O'Keefe, Southwest Baptist University (baseball, track and field)

-Jayme Perez, East Texas Baptist University (softball)

MEDIA CONTACT: John Holtz | 724.738.4925 | jonathan.holtz@sru.edu