LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – In exclusive voting
by the senior woman administrators of the conference, Rachel
Thibodeau of Southwestern University has been selected as the 2013
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Woman of the Year. By
earning this honor, Thobodeau will be designated as the
conference’s nominee for the 23rd annual NCAA Woman of the
Thibodeau is the first student-athlete from Southwestern University to earn the SCAC Woman of the Year honor. A Psychology Major and the owner of a perfect 4.00 grade-point average, she received a NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in the fall – the only SCAC student-athlete to be selected during the fall sports period and one of just 58 total recipients. She was also honored as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee and was a Capital One Academic All-America® First Team honoree this fall.
A native of Richardson, Texas, Thibodeau was a First Team All-SCAC volleyball student-athlete her junior and senior seasons, culminating with her selection as SCAC Player of the Year and a Third Team AVCA All-American this season. She was an Honorable Mention All-American selection in 2011.
Thibodeau posted 392 kills (second in the SCAC) and 351 digs during the 2012 campaign, and her efforts helped lead the Pirates to a 24-12 record and an NCAA tournament berth – the eighth consecutive postseason trip for the program.
"Rachel epitomizes a true Division III student-athlete,” said Southwestern head volleyball coach Hannah Long. “I'm proud that her drive in the classroom and on the court has been recognized recently with the NCAA Postgraduate scholarship and now by the conference as the SCAC Woman of the Year. Beyond the easily recognizable GPA and game statistics, Rachel is a great leader and teammate. I've enjoyed coaching her for four years and she will definitely be missed."
Thibodeau ended her four-year career with the Pirates with 1,249 kills and 1,350 digs and currently holds three SU single-match records. She was a member of the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team in 2010 and 2011.
In addition to her successes on the court and her studies in the classroom, Thibodeau filled her little spare time with various campus and community service activities. While at Southwestern she served as President of Psi Chi, a Psychology National Honor Society, was Vice-President of Alpha Chi National Honor Society and Secretary of Sigma Phi Lambda Christian Sorority. She was also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership society, and served as a teaching assistant within the Southwestern University Department of Psychology. Additionally, she was a SU Peer Mentor and was a summer intern for four years at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Brain Health where she was the lead author on a research publication in 2012.
Away from campus, Thibodeau served as an adult volunteer with King of Glory Youth Group and also volunteered with Relay for Life, Angel Tree, a Week of Hope and Special Olympics. In addition, Thibodeau has worked as a volleyball mentor and as a camp counselor – both at Southwestern and at Canyon Vista Middle School. She has served as a Science mentor and an English tutor and has also volunteered with children in the Greater Georgetown community through a local wellness program.
“One of the most important lessons I have learned as a student-athlete is that when faced with a challenge, it is selfish to fear the situation, leading you to hold back all you have to offer,” said Thibodeau. “When I came to this realization, I began to selflessly face rather than fear the challenges set before me. In doing so, I found myself achieving more and felt I was better able to reach out to others through leadership and community service which are inherently challenging.”
As the SCAC Woman of the Year winner, Thibodeau will be nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, one of the most prestigious honors the NCAA bestows. The award recognizes senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership.
Ruth Hahn of Trinity University (swimming & diving) was the other nominee considered for SCAC Woman of the Year.
The conference nominee will be forwarded to the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee. The selection committee will choose the top 10 nominees in each division. From among those 30 honorees, the selection committee will determine the top three in each division. Finally, the members of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will vote from among the top nine finalists to determine the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The top 10 honorees and the nine finalists from Divisions I, II and III will be honored and the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at a dinner in Indianapolis, on October 20, 2013.
Last year, Rhodes College’s Sharwil Bell became the second consecutive and third overall SCAC Woman of the Year honoree selected as a Top 30 honoree. Trinity University's Hayley Emerick became the league's second-ever top nine finalist in 2011. Trinity's Christyn Schuman was the first SCAC top-nine finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award in 2006.
In conjunction with the changes in the nomination process for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Woman of the Year award was established for the 2005-06 athletics season. Beginning in 2006, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) started receiving conference-designated nominees in lieu of the previous institution- and state-based nomination format.
To read about past winners of the SCAC Woman-of-the-Year award, click here.