by David Rung
Months after her graduation from Newman, alumna Delaney Hiegert continues to showcase just how much she exemplifies the term student-athlete.
On Thursday, Hiegert was named as one of the Top 30 honorees for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
The NCAA Woman of the Year is a national award honoring academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership. It is one of the highest awards given by the NCAA. The Woman of the Year award is unique in its recognition of female student-athletes who are not just successful on the field and in the classroom but have also contributed to their communities and campuses.
“Obviously it’s really exciting news,” Hiegert said. “I think this really speaks a lot to what Newman University, the athletic department and university as a whole, is willing to do for its students. This is not something I could have achieved on my own. I clearly had a lot of support behind me, and I’m so happy to be included in this amazing group of student-athletes.”
The Top 30 honorees are made up of the top 10 nominees in each of the three NCAA divisions. The process began this summer, as each institution was able to nominate at least one recent graduate. A record 581 women were nominated this year, with those selections moving on to the conference level.
Hiegert was named the Heartland Conference Woman of the Year, one of 153 conference-level honorees. From there, she made the cut to the Top 30 and will join the other 29 at a celebration in Indianapolis on October 27-28. Finalists for the award — the top three from each division for a total of nine — will be named later this fall, with the winner announced in Indianapolis.
Embodying the true meaning of student-athlete, Hiegert earned a 4.00 cumulative grade point average during her time at Newman, graduating summa cum laude as a communication major, with minors in journalism and criminal justice.
She was a four-year member of the Jet softball team, leading the team in hits and runs as senior and helping Newman to two Heartland Conference tournament berths during her career.
“Delaney shows exactly what it means to be a Newman Jet,” Director of Athletics and Vice President for Student Affairs Vic Trilli said. “Her commitment on the field, in the classroom, across the campus and in the community are unequalled. I can’t think of anyone else who is more deserving of this honor from the NCAA.”
Her outstanding work in the classroom netted her a place on the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-America Softball Team, the only Heartland softball player to earn the honor this season.
The Topeka, Kansas native served as editor in chief for The Vantage, Newman’s student-run newspaper, for two years beginning in 2016-17. As editor in chief, Hiegert started high school visits with local campuses to encourage students to pursue careers and opportunities in journalism and created special sections within the newspaper to address mental health, alcoholism and athletes.
Hiegert also advocated and helped launch Newman’s LGBT+ organization Kaleidoscope in 2017. The organization raised over $1,200 for South Central Mental Health Centers, a local youth mental health organization, and collaborated with the local GLSEN chapter working to eliminate bullying and discrimination against LGBT+ youths.
“We are extremely proud that the NCAA is recognizing Delaney as a Top 30 honoree of its Women of the Year award program,” Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci said. “She is a wonderful example of how our students live out the mission of Newman. While Delaney was a student, she made an impact on our university through her efforts in the classroom, on the softball diamond and as a leader on our campus. We look forward to the many ways she will transform society in the years ahead.”
Established in 1991 and now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers from throughout the NCAA’s three divisions.