WATERVILLE, Maine - The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) has announced that Katie Taylor (Lebanon, Maine) of Thomas College has been selected as the winner of its annual Woman of the Year award in a vote of the league's athletics directors and senior woman administrators. Taylor is the first student-athlete from Thomas to be selected NAC Woman of the Year and will be recognized on campus during the 2019-20 academic year.
Taylor was one of seven female student-athletes nominated by campus athletic administrators for the prestigious award which encompasses all facets of the NCAA Division III student-athlete experience.
The NAC Woman of the Year award is modeled after the NCAA's Woman of the Year program, which honors graduating student-athletes from all three divisions who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service, and leadership. Taylor will move on as the North Atlantic Conference honoree for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Dual-sport standout Katie Taylor recently graduated with a 3.99 GPA and a bachelor's degree in political science. She was an active member of the Law and Policy Club, serving as the secretary and vice president during her final two years. She will attend the University of New Hampshire School of Law this fall.
"Katie is the epitome of Division III," remarked NAC Commissioner Marcella Zalot. "She is a championship-winning two-sport athlete, a straight-A student, and deeply involved in the Thomas community. Katie is a truly impressive student-athlete, and the NAC is proud to award her with the highest honor bestowed by the conference."
Taylor captained the Terrier's field hockey team for three years, starting all 67 games of her career. She assisted on 10 goals and scored nine of her own, including one game-winner, from the midfield position. She is also credited with two defensive saves. She earned multiple NAC weekly, All-Academic, and All-Conference honors and was selected to the NAC Field Hockey Sportsmanship Team. She led the Terriers to a regular season conference championship in her senior campaign (2018). She was named a NFHCA Scholar of Distinction in each of her four years on the team.
"What a well deserved honor," head field hockey coach Andrea Thebarge reflected. "Katie made an immediate impact on both the field hockey and softball programs, as well as within our college community, from day one, and she continued to do so for four years. She is an amazing young woman"
Taylor was also a two-year captain of the softball team. She earned multiple NAC Player of the Week, All-Conference, All-Academic, and Sportsmanship Team honors for softball as well. She played 141 games and finished with a .311 batting average. Taylor racked up 113 hits, 65 runs, 51 RBI, 16 stolen bases, 17 doubles, and five triples. The outfielder had a lifetime .932 fielding percentage with 189 putouts and 15 assists. She led the team to a NAC championship title in 2017, and to the top seed in the 2019 tournament. Taylor was selected as the 2019 NAC Softball Senior Scholar Athlete.
Head softball coach Ali Kriegel remarked "Katie has been an incredible leader both athletically and academically for Thomas. She has been a role model and overall outstanding person during her softball and field hockey careers here. Katie is a fantastic representative for the NAC Woman of the Year."
On campus, Taylor worked with prospective students, new students, and experienced students in a variety of service-leadership roles. She was a Student Ambassador and a Terrier Ambassador, helping to recruit prospective students and student-athletes for Thomas College. As a SALT Ambassador, Taylor provided peer counseling about federal loans and how best to navigate the costs of college. Additionally, she provided tutoring in writing, history, and political science, as well as general guidance to new students as a Peer Mentor.
Taylor was a member of the Student-athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Terrier ACTION, a leadership development program in which she worked with other team leaders and captains to develop personal leadership strategies.
"We are incredibly proud of what Katie has accomplished on the field, in the classroom and in our community over the past four years," said athletic director Sara Shaw. "To be the first Thomas student-athlete to be recognized as NAC Woman of the Year is a well-deserved end to an outstanding career."
Taylor served the greater Waterville area through the Alpha Chi honor society, of which she was president during her senior year. She also participated in the Thomas College trail cleanup in 2016 and contributed to the creation and distribution of Thanksgiving baskets for the community each year.
In her final year at Thomas, Taylor earned the Senior Scholar Athlete Award and Senior Outstanding Athlete Award at the annual athletics banquet. Impressively, Taylor also earned the Thomas Award for exemplifying scholarship, leadership, and service, and was elected by her peers to speak at the 2019 Thomas College Commencement.
The NCAA plans to release the list of conference nominees in early August. Then, the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee identifies the Top 30 – 10 from each division – and from there selects three finalists from each division. 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 an awards dinner at the Westin Indianapolis on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.