BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin’s Leah Taylor has been selected as the Ohio Valley Conference’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. The award will be announced at the Woman of the Year Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on October 14.
Each conference nominates up to two women and from that group the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics (CWA) narrows it down to the top 10 per division which will be announced in August. In September, the CWA will select the top 3 per division.
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, service and leadership. Student-athletes are nominated only once in their career by their institution.
The NCAA CWA manages the nomination process and selections. In the past five years, 676 student-athletes were nominated by their conference or independent institutions, representing multiple ethnicities and all NCAA-sponsored sports within Divisions I, II and III. In 2012 alone, 429 student-athletes were nominated by their institutions. From 1998 through 2005, an average of 410 female student-athletes per year were nominated for the award; and since the program’s inception in 1991, 2629 women have been recognized as state or conference honorees.
Taylor, a marketing major with an impressive 3.97 GPA, was recently named a CoSIDA Academic All-American, marking the second year in a row she has been honored with that award. She has also been a multi-time selection to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll as well as being an OVC Medal of Honor pick and being tabbed an NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete. She is a member of the UT Martin Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). She has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Hoops for Heroes as well as participating with numerous elementary school events.
On the softball field, Taylor has been nothing short of remarkable. This past season, she became the UT Martin all-time career leader in runs scored (162), steals (110) and triples (18). The Brownsville, Tenn. native led the OVC in steals (39) and is tied for sixth in the nation in that category. Taylor will go down as the first player in OVC history to record over 25 career home runs and 100 stolen bases.
The 2012 OVC Player of the Year, Taylor finished this season hitting .298 batting average while posting a career-high 10 home runs and driving in 30 runs on the season. She continued to leave her mark in the UTM single-game record books as well, hitting two home runs against Jacksonville State, tallying four hits against Middle Tennessee State and swiping four bases against Southern Illinois.
Taylor will continue her work within the athletic department at UT Martin as she pursues a Master’s in Business Administration. She will use what she has learned in the classroom as a graduate assistant with Skyhawk Marketing and Development.