ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Every year the NCAA invites institutions at all three levels to submit nominations for the annual NCAA Woman of the Year. This year, UNC Asheville has submitted two worthy nominations in 2017 graduates Sarah Heisner and Chatori Major.
This year, the NCAA received 544 nominations, the most ever in the history of the Woman of the Year program. 229 nominations came from the Division I ranks, 117 from Division II and 198 from Division III. The average grade-point average of all those nominated is 3.69.
To be considered for the NCAA Woman of the Year honor, a female student-athlete must be a well-rounded individual who embodies the four pillars of the award: academics, athletics, service and leadership. Both of UNC Asheville's nominations fit the bill perfectly.
"UNC Asheville is honored to nominate Sarah and Chatori for the NCAA Woman of the Year award," said Senior Administrator for University Enterprises and Director of Athletics Janet R. Cone. "Both have exemplified a balance of academic, service and athletic excellence throughout their careers and have proven that they are 'Champions in Athletics and Leaders in Life.'"
A three-sport athlete, Heisner graduated in May with a 3.863 GPA as a Literature major. She was a four-year member of the women's cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track and field teams at UNC Asheville and competed in six events her senior year in track: 800 meters, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m. She ran in four indoor, six outdoor and six cross country meets. The 2015-16 Big South Conference Indoor Track and Field All-Academic Team selection finished second in the two mile at the 2016 WCU Fast Cat XC Invitational with a time of 11:35.1. She finished in the top-10 in two cross country 5k events: the UNC Asheville CC Invitational (3rd) and the Asheville Cross Country Challenge (6th). During the track and field seasons, she placed in the top-10 in five events including a fourth place finish in the 10,000m at the 2017 Beynon Sports Surface Catamount Classic.
Major, who graduated in May with a degree in Health and Wellness boasted a 3.648 GPA, played four seasons for the women's basketball program. She was named to the Big South's All-Academic Team at the beginning of March and is a two-time All-Big South Conference first-team selection as well as the 2015-16 Big South Conference Player of the Year. In 2016-17, Major led the Bulldogs to their second consecutive Big South Championship crown and NCAA Tournament berth. For the season, she averaged a team-best 13.8 points per game while shooting 36.6 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from three-point range. She became the 106th Big South Conference player and 16th UNC Asheville women's basketball player to eclipse the 1,000-point mark and ended her prolific career with 1,116 career points, the 12th-most by a Bulldog all-time and eighth-most in the NCAA Division I era. She also set the school single-season record for most made three-pointers in a season with 78.
The NCAA encourages member schools to honor their top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award.
Next, conferences will select up to two conference nominees each from the pool of school nominees. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees - 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine.
The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.