NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Atlantic 10 Conference institutions nominated 12 student-athletes for the prestigious 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, the league announced Tuesday. These exceptional student-athletes represent seven sports and 10 different A-10 institutions.
The NCAA Woman of the Year program honors the academic achievements, athletic excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions. To be eligible, 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 the summer of 2019. A brief biography of each A-10 candidate, listed alphabetically by institution, is below.
Eligible female student-athletes are nominated by their member school. The league’s Senior Woman Administrators will vote on the institutional nominees and select the two athletes who will represent the Atlantic 10 Conference as 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year honorees.
The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will then identify the Top 30, 10 from each division, and then selects three finalists from each division. From that list, the Committee on Women’s Athletics then selects the winner from the nine finalists.
All 30 Woman of the Year honorees will be recognized, and the 2019 Woman of the Year announced at the annual NCAA Woman of the Year Banquet at the Westin, Indianapolis, on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.
Caroline Yarbrough I Davidson College
Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field I Hometown: Greensboro, N.C. I Major: Art History,
Yarbrough wrapped up her stellar four years on the trails and on the track with a league title in the 10,000-meter run and her second consecutive trip to the NCAA East Regional. The Greensboro, N.C., native earned Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors four times overall during her senior year between cross country, indoor and outdoor track. She was named to all three A-10 All-Academic teams (XC, indoor and outdoor) in her senior season and was also added to the Google Cloud Academic All-District team for the second straight year. Yarbrough was an integral part of Davidson’s distance squad for four years, earning 16 All-Conference team nods, seven All-Academic team selections and racing to four individual league titles. The 2016 A-10 Cross Country Rookie of the Year finished her career on the track with 123 total points in A-10 Championship meets, the most in school history, never finishing lower than fifth place.
Lauren Cannatelli, University of Dayton
Women’s Basketball | Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio | Major: Exercise Physiology and Biology
Cannatelli rewrote the Dayton record books, setting program marks in three pointers made in a season, game, career, and attempted. She also recorded the second-best free throw performance in NCAA history, going a perfect 22-for-22 in a game. The Cincinnati native became the 26th Flyer in program history to reach the 1,000 point mark, finishing with 1,340 in her career and ranking 13th all-time. Cannatelli earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Academic honors as a senior and received the Flyer-of-the-Year award at the annual team banquet. She finished her senior campaign averaging 13.0 points per game and shooting 90.6 percent from the free throw line, which led the A-10 by over five percent.
Brooke Salmon I Fordham University
Women’s Soccer I Hometown: West Hempstead, N.Y. I Major: Economics
A two-time team captain, Salmon set school records for career games played (80) and games started (78). She earned First Team All Atlantic 10 in 2018 and was a Second Team selection in 2016 and 2017. Salmon was named to the 2016 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team and was the first Fordham women’s soccer player in recent times to receive an on-field A-10 award each year She was a 2018 team MVP and was ranked one of the top five players in the Atlantic 10 in 2018 by Top Drawer Soccer. She was a recipient of the Leader of Distinction Award from the Fordham Leadership Academy and was named to the Atlantic 10 Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Mei-Lyn Bautista | George Washington
Women's Basketball | Hometown: Queens, N.Y. | Major: Marketing
Bautista was the undisputed team leader for the Colonials, helping guide the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, two A-10 Tournament titles and two A-10 Regular Season championships during her four years. In her final campaign, Bautista was a member of the A-10 Postseason Third Team and All-Defensive Team as well as the Preseason Second Team and All-Defensive Team. She also earned A-10 All-Tournament distinction in 2017-18 and All-Rookie honors in 2015-16. Bautista was named GW's Lynn George Outstanding Senior Female Student-Athlete and has been honored for her work in the classroom as an A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll recipient twice in her career. Off the court, she has participated in over 20 community service projects, taking a particular focus in local organizations that empower youth with disabilities.
Emily Zhang I George Washington
Women’s Swimming & Diving I Hometown: Rockville, Md. I Major: International Affairs & Geography
Zhang has paced GW women's swimming and diving's climb in the Atlantic 10 standings, totaling 16 A-10 medals during her career to help the Colonials improve their conference positioning in each of the past four seasons. The Maryland native capped her career in style by earning seven at her final A-10 meet in February as GW placed second to equal its best finish in program history. She followed up by adding a silver in the 100-yard individual medley at the season-ending CSCAA National Invitational Championship. A member of GW’s SAAC and Leadership Academy and two-time Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, Zhang received GW Athletics' Red Auerbach Award for well-rounded excellence as a senior and was awarded an A-10 postgraduate scholarship. She has been recognized for her work in the classroom as an A-10 All-Academic pick and CSCAA Scholar All-American and active in the community as a tutor and adaptive swim instructor.
Aiste Balciunaite | University of Massachusetts
Rowing | Hometown: Bala Cywnyd, Pa. | Major (double): Chemical engineering; Biochemistry and molecular biology
Balciunaite co-captained the Minutewomen in 2018-19 to cap a remarkable UMass career, both on and off the water. In addition to earning Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors for the third time, she was a 2019 Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team and All-District First Team pick. In May 2019, she was named one of only 10 UMass seniors across campus bestowed with the 21st Century Leader Award, given in honor of exemplary achievement, initiative and leadership. She rode four seat in the Varsity Eight when UMass took home the 2015 Atlantic 10 Championship and advanced to the NCAA Championships, before battling back from injury and stroking the Varsity Eight on the 2018 A-10 runner-up squad. In spring 2018, UMass Athletics honored Balciunaite with the Scholar-Athlete Award. Her academic successes include a 3.99 cumulative grade-point average, work on multiple grant proposals and research papers and time as a research assistant in the Commonwealth Honors College.
Allie Reilly | University of Rhode Island
Rowing | Hometown: North Kingstown, R.I. | Major Kinesiology
Reilly had a storybook year on the water, both for the University of Rhode Island and for Team USA in international competition. In addition to leading the Rams to their third Atlantic 10 title in four years, the All-Atlantic 10 First-Team selection won a pair of medals for the U.S. National team. In June, Reilly won a gold medal as part of Team USA’s PR3 Mixed Four boat at the World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland. This came after she was a part of the silver medal-winning boat for Team USA at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In between the two world events, Reilly set a world record while competing at the World Rowing Indoor Championships PR3 in Long Beach, Calif. She accomplished all of this while earning CRCA Scholar Athlete Award recognition for the second straight season as a Kinesiology major with a 3.60 grade-point average. Reilly qualifies for the PR3 category for para-rowing – which entails limited use in legs, trunk, and arms. She was born with extra fingers and toes, and surgery has limited her range of motion.
Julie Ball I University of Richmond
Women’s Lacrosse I Hometown: Winnetka, Ill. I Major: Leadership Studies
A two-time IWLCA All-South Region honoree, Ball became the first student-athlete in Atlantic 10 women’s lacrosse history to repeat as the conference Defensive Player of the Year, doing so as both a junior and senior. The Winnetka, Ill., native led the Spiders to two-straight A-10 titles and trips to the NCAA Tournament, garnering First Team All-Conference and All-Academic Team honors and solidifying herself as one of the top defenders in program history. Ball wrapped up her career in second all-time with 117 caused turnovers and fifth with 174 draw controls, while earning A-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors six times. She finished 2019 with 51 caused turnovers, just one shy of matching her own record of 52 that she set in 2018, and proved to be one of the top players in the country with 74 ground balls.
Marshea Robinson | University of Richmond
Women’s Track & Field | Bloomfield, N.J. | Major: Business Administration
A two-time Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection and four-year letter winner in indoor and outdoor track at Richmond, Robinson was the recipient of the University of Richmond Outstanding Leadership Award. She saw her senior season end prematurely due to an injury after finishing eighth overall at the 2018 Atlantic 10 Conference Indoor Championships in the 500-meter race, including setting a personal-best time in the preliminaries. Robinson won an Atlantic 10 Conference title in the indoor championships as part of the first place distance medley relay team in 2018 and raced as part of the school record-setting 4x400 relay team in 2018 that took home second place at the Fred Hardy Invitational. She also helped the Spiders to a second-place showing in the 4x100 meter relay race at the Fred Hardy Invitational.
Mckenna Maycock | St. Bonaventure University
Women’s Basketball | Hometown: Randolph, N.Y. | Major: Professional Accountancy (MBA)
Maycock graduated from St. Bonaventure with both an undergraduate degree in accounting and an MBA in professional accountancy. She had a 3.97 cumulative undergrad GPA and a 3.94 GPA in her graduate work, earning selection as a CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-Region as well as Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team honoree three times. On the court, she ranked among the A-10 leaders in scoring (12.3 ppg, 15th), rebounding (5.7 rpg, 16th), 3-pointers made (2.3 per game, second), 3-point percentage (33.3 percent, 11th) and led the Bonnies in each of those categories during her final collegiate season. This past year, she started all 24 games she played and averaged 33.3 minutes per game. For her career, she played in 100 games for the Bonnies and posted 775 points. Her 103, 3-pointers are 13th in program history and her 79.7 career free throw percentage is ninth in the Bona record books.
Anna Willocks | Saint Joseph's University
Field Hockey | Hometown: Palmerston North, New Zealand | Major: Psychology
Willocks graduated as the most decorated student-athlete in SJU field hockey history, and among the most accomplished student-athletes to ever don the Crimson and Gray in any sport. She is the first three-time NFHCA All-America honoree in program history; after a pair of Second Team honors, she became the second First Team selection in Saint Joseph's field hockey history in 2018. Willocks is the first student-athlete to be named the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year three times, having won the award three consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2017. She is a four-time All-Conference First Team selection, and was also named the league's Rookie of the Year in 2015.
Kelly Graves | VCU
Women’s Soccer | Hometown: Springfield, Ill. | Major: Psychology
Graves represented the Black and Gold for four seasons before graduating from VCU with a degree in Psychology with minors in Statistics and Finance. Her overall GPA of was one of the highest cumulative marks on a team that was awarded with the United States Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award. On the field, Graves helped lead the Rams to back-to-back Atlantic 10 Championship appearances, serving as a team captain for both squads (2017 & 2018). Additionally, Graves won both the team Offensive Player of the Year and Team MVP Awards following her sophomore season. An academic standout during high school, Graves earned all-academic honors for three consecutive years before continuing to excel academically throughout college. A great leader on and off the field, Graves is a longstanding active volunteer at a food pantry in her hometown of Springfield.