MARSHFIELD, Mass.- The New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) has nominated two student-athletes for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Lauren Vallee (Bristol, Conn.) of Bay Path University, and Destiny Spears (Arnold, Md.) of Newbury College will represent the conference as its nominees for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The NCAA Woman of the Year program honors student-athletes who have excelled academically and athletically, while also being leaders on their campus and in the community. Per the NCAA, “a nominee must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport, must have completed eligibility in her primary sport, and must have earned her undergraduate degree by Summer 2018.”
Lauren Vallee is a 2018 graduate of Bay Path University, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Forensic Science. She earned Dean’s List distinction in all eight semesters, and was also named NECC Academic All-Conference six times. As a senior she was inducted into Delta Delta Epsilon, the Forensic Science Honor Society.
Vallee served as President of Bay Path’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and spent time peer tutoring, for which she was the recipient of the 2017-2018 Bashevkin Center for Academic Excellence in Peer Tutoring Award. She was rewarded for her positive influence on the campus and the surrounding community with Bay Path University’s Eagle Award, which is presented to a “traditional undergraduate student who has had a significant impact on the Bay Path community by exhibiting an overall positive attitude and demonstrating leadership in campus activities and athletics.”
A two-sport athlete, Lauren Vallee played both volleyball and softball in her highly decorated four-year career for the Wildcats. She collected four NECC All-Conference awards across her two sports. She broke-out in her junior campaign on the diamond, leading NCAA Division III in slugging percentage and doubles per game, on her way to being named the NECC Softball Player of the Year, a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) second team All-New England honoree and the Fastpitch News (FPN) NCAA Division III Offensive Player of the Year.
In her senior campaign, Vallee led Bay Path to their first-ever NECC Softball Championship, earning first team All-Conference accolades, along with first team NFCA All-New England accolades.
She capped off her senior year with the NECC Senior Student-Athlete of the Year award.
Destiny Spears is a 2018 graduate of Newbury College, graduating with a degree in Psychology, with a minor in Social Science. She earned Dean’s List distinction twice, while being named both the 2018 Newbury Nighthawk of the Year, and the 2018 Noble Nighthawk, which recognizes student-leaders on Newbury's campus.
In 2017, Spears was selected to attend the NCAA Leadership Development Forum, where she gained invaluable leadership skills. She put these skills to work, serving as Vice President of Newbury’s SAAC, while also volunteering at numerous organizations in the community.
Spears competed in three varsity sports in her time at Newbury- cross country, track and field, and basketball, (with basketball and cross country being the only two that are currently sponsored by the conference), and served as captain of all three. Spears also helmed a tennis club team on campus. She garnered three NECC All-Conference awards across the conference sponsored sports. In her senior season on the basketball court, Spears led the Nighthawks to the most wins they have had while members of the NECC, and won the regular season title. For her outstanding play, Spears was named the 2018 NECC Women's Basketball Player of the Year.
Each member institution has the opportunity to nominate an eligible student-athlete, with the conference office selecting the final nominees. Elms College also submitted a nominee, Sarah Tatgenhorst (Winterport, Maine).
Tatgenhorst was a 2018 Elms graduate, with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and a minor in Psychology. She was named the salutatorian of her class, earned NECC Academic All-Conference distinction from 2015-18, and was a member of Elms’ 360 Club Award from 2015-18, which honors students with at least a 3.60 GPA. Tatgenhorst volunteered at several different organizations in the community, and also made numerous service trips throughout her college career.
Tatgenhorst was a two-sport athlete at Elms, competing in cross country and track and field. She earned All-Conference accolades every year of her cross country career at Elms.
Vallee and Spears wil move forward in the process, as the Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will choose the top 30 honorees, 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee will determine the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will then choose the 2018 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 awards dinner on Oct. 28 in Indianapolis.