SCAC Nominates Two for 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year Award

SCAC Nominates Two for 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year Award

SUWANEE, Ga. - Sharwil Bell of Rhodes College and Abigail Loar of Trinity University have been nominated by the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference for the 22nd annual NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

The NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership.

Bell is the first student-athlete from Rhodes College to earn the SCAC Woman-of-the-Year honor. A Biology Major with a Business Minor and the owner of a 3.94 grade-point average, she received the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was a finalist for the 2012 Josten’s Trophy – an award given annually to one male and one female Division III basketball student-athlete who excels in the classroom, on the court and in the community.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Bell was a two-time First Team All-SCAC performer her last two seasons in the conference and was selected Third Team in 2009-10 when she was also recognized as the league’s Newcomer-of-the-Year.

A Capital One Academic All-America® Women's Basketball First Team selection, Bell averaged 15.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game during the 2011-12 season and shot 43.3 percent from the field. She led the Lynx to an 18-8 overall mark in 2011-12, which tied the school record for single-season wins.

Bell, who transferred to Rhodes from Elon, ended her three-year career run with the Lynx with 1,247 points (sixth in school history) and 574 rebounds and was voted team MVP all three seasons. Most recently, she was named the recipient of the Rebecca Rish Gay award – signifying the top women’s senior athlete at Rhodes College.

In addition to her successes on the court and her studies in the classroom, Bell filled her little spare time with various campus and community service activities. She served as Vice President of the Mortar Board National Honor Society as well as Secretary and Vice President of Rhodes’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and has been a campus Peer Mentor for Serving Our Students since 2010. Away from campus, Bell has worked as a Physical Therapy Shadow at both Methodist University Hospital and the Campbell Clinic for Orthopedics.  

"Sharwil has been the premier student-athlete on our campus for three years," said Rhodes head women's basketball coach Matt Dean. "Besides being a tremendous player, she became the best leader I have ever coached. In my opinion she is the finest student-athlete in all of NCAA intercollegiate athletics. It has been a pleasure to coach her these last three years."

Loar, an Anthropology and Environmental Sciences major from Littleton, Colo., was the recipient of the Margaret Mead Award, given to the top senior in the Anthropology major at Trinity, as well as the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The owner of a 3.79 grade-point average, Loar was also the recipient of the Murchison Research Scholarship for Biology at Trinity and presented her findings this past April at the Experimental Biology Annual Conference in San Diego.

On the soccer fields Loar was equally impressive. She earned All-America honors each of the past two seasons, and was named the SCAC Offensive Player-of-the-Year for the second consecutive season in 2011. She led Trinity to a 22-1 record last fall, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Playoffs.

Loar was named the National Forward of the Year in 2011, and was named an All-American by both and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. She also earned NSCAA Scholar All-America honors each of the past two seasons.

With 21 goals this past season, Loar broke Trinity's school record for career points and career goals scored, and improved to third in school history in career assists. She is the only Tiger player in history to score 15 or more goals in three different seasons (2009, 2010, 2011), and is just the fourth to score 20 or more goals and 50 or more points in one year.

Loar is the second women's soccer player in the past two seasons to earn the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship (Danika Wright, 2010-11), and is the fourth Trinity student-athlete to earn the award since the start of the 2010-11 season.

In addition to her athletic and academic success, Loar also found time for other campus and community service activities. This year, she played a vital role with an HIV/Syphilis Task Force where she served as the Epidemiological Data Survey creator, implementer and analyst. Loar also volunteered with Project Cure, helping to sort donated medical supplies so that they could be shipped to developing world clinics, and with Two Degrees where she served as co-representative in San Antonio for a project that endorsed food sources to developing countries through the sales of domestic nutrition bars.

“Abby has been a tremendous ambassador for our institution, our program, our team, sport, her peer students and athletes,” said Trinity head women’s soccer coach Lance Key. “I have been greatly blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from Abby throughout her time at Trinity. She is a first-rate citizen and member of our family, an incredibly driven and motivated student, and an exceptional athlete. She epitomizes the individual we all wish to surround ourselves with, whether we're trying to win games, wars, or prizes. Abby is simply a winner on many levels, and I very much look forward to watching her cut her path towards a very bright future.”

Loar and Bell were two of seven outstanding nominees considered by the SCAC Woman of the Year Committee. The other candidates were:

  • Sarah Ayers, swimming, Southwestern University
  • Colleen Maggard, swimming, Centre College
  • Allison Mosley, soccer/track & field, Hendrix College
  • Eliza Newland, soccer, Oglethorpe University
  • Amy Schornack, volleyball, Colorado College

As SCAC co-winners, Loar and Bell will both 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.

All conference nominees 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 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.

The top 10 honorees and the nine finalists from Divisions I, II and III will be honored and the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at a dinner in Indianapolis, on October 14, 2012.

Last year, Trinity University all-America diver Hayley Emerick became the first SCAC Woman of the Year honoree chosen as one of the nine finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

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 athletic 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.

From 1991 to 2005, each state had a woman of the year honoree and from that group 10 finalists were selected. From the top-10 finalists, the national winner was then chosen. Since 2006, each conference and independent school forwards nominations to the NCAA. 

To read about past winners of the SCAC Woman-of-the-Year award, click here.