Shannon Coulombe, a 2016 graduate of the University of North Georgia (UNG), advanced to the second round of selection for the NCAA Woman of the Year, joining just 142 women in the nation for the honor.
The NCAA Woman of the Year program has recognized graduating female student-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership since its inception in 1991. A record pool of 517 candidates were chosen this year during the first round — conferences then assessed their member school nominees and selected up to two conference nominees. Coulombe was one of two chosen to represent the Division II Peach Belt Conference (PBC), which includes 14 colleges and universities.
"This is an incredible achievement, and one that is well deserved by Shannon," said Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics for UNG. "During her years as a student-athlete, she thoroughly demonstrated all of the values the selection committee looks for in recognizing these young women. We are very proud of her for being such a shining example of what it means to be a Nighthawk."
In early September, The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, chose the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division. Though Coulombe did not advance to the third round, she feels honored to have made it to the top 142, of which there were only 37 women representing all of Division II athletics.
"This was an incredible honor, and a very humbling experience," Coulombe said. "When I got the phone call letting me know I made it to the first round, I was kind of amazed, because I know so many female athletes at UNG that could have made it. Then, when I made it to the second round to represent the PBC, that's something I don't even have words for. Having the support of friends and coaches along the way was great, and I really enjoyed helping put UNG on the map and showing how our university works to develop student-athletes as a whole person. That's part of why I love this school and why I've been so involved."
Coulombe graduated from UNG after three seasons as a member of the nationally ranked women's soccer program. The Duluth, Georgia native was a three-time member of the PBC Presidential Honor Roll and served as vice-president of the UNG Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. This fall, she is working as a graduate assistant for the UNG women's golf program.
In the final selection round, nine finalists, three from each division, were chosen. Margaret Guo, a swimmer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was announced as the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year. She was honored at an awards dinner on Oct. 16 in Indianapolis.
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.