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GNAC Announces Seven 2019 Woman of the Year Finalists


Winner will be put forth for
NCAA Woman of the Year award

WINTHROP, Mass. – In conjunction with the NCAA Woman of the Year Award process at the national level, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is pleased to announce its finalists for the 2019 GNAC Woman of the Year Award. The winner will be announced in late July and automatically put forth for the prestigious national award, which spans across Divisions I, II and III.

This year's GNAC finalists are Amanda Martin of Colby-Sawyer College women's soccer and track & field; Adele Duval of Eastern Nazarene College women's tennis; Ally Mishol of Johnson & Wales University (RI) women's basketball and softball; Carly Zdanek of Lasell College women's soccer; Emily Oliver of Norwich University women's volleyball, women's basketball and softball; Mikayla Ramsdell of Rivier University field hockey and softball; and Kelsi McNamara of Saint Joseph's College of Maine women's basketball.

The NCAA Woman of the Year award program honors graduating female 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 school.

Amanda Martin, Colby-Sawyer Women's Soccer/Track & Field
Martin, who excelled both on the soccer field and for the Chargers' track & field program, posted a 3.76 GPA as a Nursing major. She captained the women's soccer program as a senior last fall, earning All-GNAC Second Team recognition in Colby-Sawyer's first year as a GNAC member. She wrapped up her senior campaign on the track by earning GNAC All-Conference honors after winning the women's 400 meters at the GNAC Championship.

The Amesbury, Mass. native's community leadership positions included serving as a home health care aid, working with Sullivan Studios for Destination Imagination, and volunteering at a high school training camp. She is a member of the Alpha Chi National College Honors Society and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society of Nursing. Martin was also hailed as the 2019 Colby-Sawyer Outstanding Senior Female Athlete.

On the soccer field, she registered 43 career points on 15 goals and 13 assists in 65 games played across her four seasons of action. In track & field, she had numerous North Atlantic Conference (NAC) all-conference honors, which included earning 2016 NAC Rookie of the Year honors in the sport.

Martin's personal statement: "I must compromise talking about any accomplishments and 'big' things that I experienced, in order to tell you that it was in the very 'small' things that I grew and found a space for impacting others. Being a student-athlete made me uncomfortable, in the best sense of the word. It placed me in situations of pain and adversity where I had no strength left to play another half, do another event, or finish a paper. It forced me out of my comfort zone. It disciplined me, but being a scholar athlete has made me love these places, the process, and all that comes with it. It's in the losses that I could only look up and around at those near me. It forced me to persevere, dig in, and keep moving. So, if I had any, or will have any, positive impact on others, I don't believe that it was in the setting of records, or winning of championships, but I believe it was in faithful relationships and in a day-to-day walk of obedience and discipline. I will still respect my opponents and encourage my teammates whether in the form of coworkers, friends, or strangers. I will keep training, bettering myself daily at whatever I pursue. I will still overcome injuries, fatigue, and challenges of life. I will be me, a student-athlete, and hopefully in the midst of the uncomfortable, I can encourage at least one, to love that space too."

Adele Duval, Eastern Nazarene Women's Tennis
Duval, a Redding, Calif. native, graduated from ENC with a 4.00 GPA as a History; Crime, Law & Justice major along with a minor in Pre-Law; Psychology. She garnered either Second- or Third-Team All-Conference honors in all four years of her career across the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and GNAC, while helping her team reach the conference semifinals.

Off the field, Duval worked for the ENC student newspaper and yearbook organization from 2016-19, serving as director, editor-in-chief and deputy editor. She also volunteered with the Rehoboth (MA) Shelter Maintenance Service Project, Sandwich Ministry, and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee all four years with the Lions. The Class Valedictorian also served as the women's tennis programs team representative at Eastern Nazarene SAAC meetings. 

Duval's personal statement: "As a female athlete, I've often felt less able. I'm not as strong, not as fast, and women's tennis isn't deemed as entertaining as men's tennis. Yet through competing and training, I've learned that the harder I push myself, the more capable I am. I can be faster, stronger, better and achieve just as many wins and records as any male athlete. Playing at the top of the ladder my freshman year showed me that anything is possible if I dedicate myself to it, and I've found that translates to all aspects of life. Rather than accepting that I was an athlete with less time in my schedule, I didn't back down from pursuing my academics. Rather than accepting the outdated notion that a woman is less capable, I completed two majors and two minors in the time it takes most students to do half as much and finished as valedictorian. That is only a fraction. Through captaining my team and volunteering for causes that organizations like Relay for Life and Special Olympics support, I've continued to learn that I am capable … capable of achieving more, and capable of achieving change. Though I am one person, I am capable of making a difference other's lives, through action or showing someone love and care. Because of this, I want to continue to demonstrate that every woman can make change, even if they are one person, and perhaps not in spite of, but because they are a woman."

Ally Mishol, Johnson & Wales Women's Basketball/Softball
As a Sports, Entertainment and Event Management major, the two-sport standout achieved a 3.95 GPA at JWU. The women's basketball and softball student-athlete hails from Longmeadow, Mass.

In the community, Mishol volunteered with the Tomorrow Fund, Adopt-A-Family, Caps of Love Organization, softball and basketball clinics, among other endeavors. She earned the JWU Ron Bachman Award for academics, athletics, and leadership, and also was a 2019 CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District selection in softball.

A GNAC All-Second Team Softball choice this past season, Mishol also is a two-time GNAC champion as the Wildcats earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament backto-back in 2017 and 2018. In three years on the diamond, she hit .272 with nine homers and 64 RBI, including seven round-trippers and 24 RBI while hitting a career-best .310 this spring. On the hardwood, she averaged 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds over three seasons, while posting career-best per-game marks of 14.3 points and 6.7 boards as a senior.

Mishol's personal statement: "Entering college, I knew I wanted to continue my passion for sports whether it was a student-athlete or through my studies. Over the past three years, I have been fortunate to compete on the women's basketball and softball teams while thoroughly enjoying my major. The JWU athletics department and community of student-athletes have provided me with the tools and opportunities to grow as a leader not only for my teammates, but also my community. My experiences as a student-athlete have only reaffirmed my passion for sports, as well as intensified my efforts to give back to younger athletes also looking to grow their love of sports. As an active SAAC representative, I have been able to contribute to community service projects that had a meaningful impact on the hundreds of lives throughout Rhode Island. Additionally, through softball initiatives such as a Homerun Derby to raise proceeds for the Tomorrow Fund, or hosting numerous clinics for young girls who share the same passion for the sport, I have learned values such as compassion, commitment, and being genuine. These are just three of the many qualities I have learned and will continue to embody. My time as a Wildcat consisted of proudly representing my university as a student-athlete, having the courage to do things the right way, demonstrating strong character when leading by example, and giving back to the community. I strongly believe I wouldn't be the person I am today without my family, coaches, JWU, and most importantly my teammates.

Carly Zdanek, Lasell College Women's Soccer
Zdanek, a three-time All-GNAC First Team selection and the GNAC Offensive Player of the Year as a junior, posted a 3.84 GPA as a Fashion and Retail Merchandising major at Lasell. The Newton, N.J. native also helped lead the Lasers to three conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.

Along with serving as student director at Lasell to organize fashion shows for student designers at the school, among other fashion show events, she also managed a boutique store events while abroad in Florence, Italy. Just as well, she was a member of the Fashion Styling and Photo Club in 2019 and participated in Relay for Life the past four years.

Named the Lasell Women's Athlete of the Year 2017-18, she was also chosen as the Lasell Athletics Torchbearer Award for 2018-19, the highest award given out by Lasell Athletics. For her career, she totaled an impressive 108 points on 44 goals and 20 assists, including a banner 17-goal, 38-point season as a junior, which led to Zdanek capturing 2017 US Soccer Coaches Third Team All-America honors. 

Zdanek's personal statement: "The soccer field is where I gained leadership skills that enhanced my education and opened opportunities for me during my final year at Lasell. Holding a captain position my senior year on my team gave me the confidence to lead a group of people off the field. This past spring, I was chosen to be student director for four fashion shows my college put on for the student designers. Tackling the student director role was intimidating at first and I felt just like I was stepping on the soccer field for the first time as a little girl. I was unsure whether I would succeed or not in either case but the feeling quickly went away once I found a passion for what I was doing. I directed fashion shows for a retirement community, for the Boston Public Library, and for Lasell. Just like soccer, I fell in love with it after the first show and became more confident and passionate about the director role. Great responsibility came with the role but having the experience as a captain taught me how to execute and conquer each task. The fashion shows were a great way to bring joy to others especially at the retirement community and to the parents of the student designers who were impressed by the professionalism of the shows. Soccer encouraged me to challenge myself and accomplish things I never thought were possible."

Emily Oliver, Norwich Women's Basketball / Softball / Women's Volleyball
Oliver recently captured 2019 CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-America Third Team honors in softball, as the three-sport standout dedicated her time to the Cadets' women's volleyball, women's basketball, and softball programs, as she was in-season for the entire academic calendar. She was also a 2018 CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District choice in women's volleyball. 

The Mechanical Engineering major and Chemistry (pre-med) minor balanced the athletic commitments by posting a 3.94 GPA at Norwich. A native of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, Oliver also was Tau Beta Pi Vice President, Pi Tau Sigma President, an Honor Committee adjudicator, a chemistry peer tutor, and a researcher at a research apprenticeship. She won the Vermont Student Engineer of the Year Award, which is given annually by the Vermont Society of Engineers, as well as the Tau Beta Pi award for the engineering honors society. 

Athletically, the tri-captain earned All-GNAC Softball Third Team honors back in 2016. On the diamond, she finished her career as a pitcher with a 3.78 ERA to go with 194 strikeouts and 42 complete games in 396.0 innings. On the basketball court, she averaged 7.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.4 assists in 84 career games, including 61 starts. On the volleyball court, the setter averaged 5.24 assists per set for her career, including 7.44 per set her junior and senior years combined.

Oliver's personal statement: "I am not defined by the sports I play. I am defined by who I am and how I treat others when I am on the court and off the court. I am defined by the effort I gave and my perseverance when faced with challenges. I discovered that I could make an impact in three sports and excel in my academics because I had a strong network of friends, parents, coaches, mentors and teammates that were there for me when I needed a helping hand. My dream is to become an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon. During a summer research project with MetroHealth Hospital in 2018, I joined a group of burn survivors to learn from them. At the end of the summer, the amazing group of survivors came together and presented me with a plaque adorned with beautiful butterflies that read: 'Sometimes people are brought together by fate. Wanting to expand your experience you have joined our survivors group on your way to becoming a great doctor. Don't let anyone keep you from a great destiny filled with kindness caring gentleness and bringing healing to many. May you always make wise decisions driven by caring for others.' I am excited about becoming a physician and a Naval officer and to serve those who serve our country. In the fall of 2019, I will take the next step as I begin medical school at University of Vermont with the support of a Navy scholarship."

Mikayla Ramsdell, Rivier Field Hockey / Softball
Ramsdell, a two-sport standout for the Raiders, posted a 3.80 GPA as a Mathematics Education major and is now pursuing her M.Ed. in Education Administration at Rivier. The Salem, N.H. native was a 2018 All-GNAC Third Team selection in softball and captained the team her final three years.

Off the field, Ramsdell was the Rivier men's basketball team's team manager, committing her time to a Raiders' winter program in addition to being a fall/spring student-athlete. She was also a Rivier summer sports camps counselor, a peer tutor, and volunteered with Salem (NH) Softball and the Northeast Hurricanes Softball out of Nashua, N.H. In addition to representing the GNAC office at the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Ramsdell was the 2018 Yvonne Greenleaf Scholarship Recipient for academic excellence and community involvement and a part of the Alpha Chi Sigma Athletic Honor Society.

Statistically, she slashed .312/.367/.453 in 138 career softball games, accumulating 122 hits, including 28 doubles to go with 73 runs and 70 RBI. For the Raiders' field hockey program, the midfielder started all 61 games she appeared in dating back to her freshman year.

Ramsdell's personal statement: "Leadership, patience, courage, commitment, confidence, inspiration, composure, dedication, passion, and encouragement. These are the characteristics I have been taught to live by as a student and athlete. I have chosen to pursue my goals by attending Rivier and majoring in Mathematics Education and by continuing my education by working towards my M.Ed. in Educational Administration. I genuinely could not be any happier with the decisions I have made for this chapter of my life, and they have led me to recently accepting a full-time math teaching position at Merrimack HS (NH) starting in the fall. I have a passion for athletics and being on the playing fields, and I want to further share my knowledge by coaching. I truly believe that sharing my academic and athletic talents is how I can best benefit this world, and that is why I have chosen this career path. Whether it is academics, sports, or community events, I strive to be a leader. I believe my organizational skills, desire to lead, and proven track record of always giving 110% bring out the best in my peers that choose to follow my passion of making a difference. At Rivier, I have found myself fortunate to become a member of the campus community. While always willing to lend a generous, helping hand, I have tried to become a familiar face on campus. Whether in the classroom, on the playing field, or just passing by fellow peers, my leadership skills, commitment to serving others, and work ethic play an evident role in the person I am."

Kelsi McNamara, Saint Joseph's of Maine Women's Basketball
McNamara's athletic feats for Saint Joe's will forever be remembered, as she helped the Monks to three GNAC Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances in her tenure at SJC. The West Newbury, Mass. native graduated with a 3.57 GPA as an Elementary Education major. The two-time GNAC Player of the Year as both a sophomore and senior, as well as the GNAC Rookie of the Year back in 2016, was also named a Second Team All-American this past winter.

Off the court, she worked with SJC and Pentucket Regional HS with hoop summer camps, as well as related experiences after being selected to play in the WBCA All-Star Game this past winter. McNamara collected 2019 CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-America Third Team honors after being named CoSIDA All-District in 2018.

For her career, McNamara averaged 17.5 points and 5.3 assists in 118 games, averaging 30.1 minutes per contest. As a senior, a year in which SJC boasted an undefeated verall record until the GNAC Championship contest, she averaged career-highs in points (21.2), assists (6.7) and rebounds (3.6), finishing the season ranked second in Division III in assists (200), third in three-pointers made (93) and fourth in points (636). The Monks graduate was also a three-time GNAC Tournament MVP. 

"My experience as a scholar and an athlete has led me to become a leader in my community. On the basketball court, I had a very successful 4 years being the point guard leader for my team. My teammates looked up to the player and person I was. I received countless accolades, but some of my most influential moments have been off the court. From being an elementary education major, I had the opportunity to work with young girls in the classroom. I became a role model for them and would inspire them to not only try hard in school, but also follow their passion like I followed mine with basketball. Also, I was selected to play in WBCA All-Star game in Virginia where I not only played with the top-20 players in the country, but we also did multiple community service activities. We worked with members of the Special Olympic Team, students from a Day Treatment Facility, and helped run a coach's clinic. Being from a basketball-loving community in my hometown, when I go home I continue to work with young girls and help them achieve their goals. I would go back to my high school's basketball practices to help the new members of the team, as well as work camps with the elementary school girls. I became a role model for these girls and continue to keep positive relationships with them. From my successes, it has given the opportunity to be a leader in my community." 

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.