University of Nevada rifle student-athlete Olivia Pennell has been named an independent nominee for the 2013 Woman of the Year Award, the NCAA announced this week.
"Olivia is a marvelous scholar athlete," Nevada head rifle coach Fred Harvey said. "It has been an honor to work with her and I am very proud of her achievements."
Pennell, a junior from Sacramento, Calif., held a 3.97 cumulative GPA as a senior and graduated this spring with a degree in economics. She is one of just two rifle student-athletes in the nation to be nominated and one of only three nominees from schools of the Mountain West.
The NCAA established the Woman of the Year Award in 1991 to celebrate the achievements of women in intercollegiate athletics. Now in its 22nd year, the award is unique because it recognizes not only the athletics achievements of outstanding young women, but also their academic achievements, community service and leadership.
NCAA member institutions from all three divisions nominated their own woman of the year. To be eligible, these women must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and must have completed eligibility in their primary sport. More than 140 NCAA female student-athletes representing multiple sports across NCAA Divisions I, II and III have been selected as 2013 Woman of the Year honorees by their athletics conferences and by independent schools.
In August, the Woman of the Year selection committee will select the top 10 honorees in each division from this pool to be recognized. In September, the selection committee will announce the top nine finalists (three from each division), and the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will vote from amongst those finalists to determine the 2013 Woman of the Year.
On Oct. 20 in Indianapolis, the NCAA will announce the 2013 Woman of the Year and will honor the top 30 nominees.
“I am honored to receive this recognition,” she said. “It would not have been possible without the wonderful support of my coach and the athletics staff at Nevada. I greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to compete for the Wolf Pack.”
The NCAA awarded Pennell in March with the Elite 89 Award, making the Sacramento native the first Wolf Pack student-athlete to win the prestigious award. She was presented with the award at the banquet prior to the 2013 NCAA Rifle Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
The Elite 89 award recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships.
Pennell qualified for the NCAA Championship as an individual and finished 38th in the small bore, just six points out of All-America status. She plans to enroll at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst to pursue two degrees: a master's in business administration and a master's in sports management. Pennell plans a career in business operations for either a professional sports franchise or a college athletics program.
For more information on the Woman of the Year award log on to NCAA.com.