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VanHorn's nomination for NCAA Woman of Year advances to second round

UNG graduate Renee VanHorn's nomination for NCAA Woman of the Year has advanced to the second round. She is one of 33 Division II student-athletes still in contention and is the lone Peach Belt Conference representative still in the mix.

Recent University of North Georgia (UNG) graduate Renee VanHorn has reached the second round of the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award nomination process. Advancing from the initial list of 585 nominees to a current list of 148 contenders, she is the Peach Belt Conference's (PBC) lone remaining student-athlete.

"It is the cherry on top of my college career," VanHorn said. "I am thankful for the nomination, and I am humbled to receive it."

This is the fourth time a UNG graduate has been nominated. Shannon Coulombe, a 2016 UNG graduate and former Nighthawks soccer player, advanced to the second round in 2016. Golfer Taylor Allen and basketball player Stephanie Huffman were nominated in 2017 and 2015, respectively.

The NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have completed their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service, and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.

VanHorn, a forward on the women's soccer team, earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in management in May 2019. She tallied a 3.73 GPA and was named to the PBC All-Academic Team three times and the PBC Presidential Honor Roll three times, collecting gold, silver and bronze honors.

She was one of 10 students honored with the Women of UNG Leadership Recognition Award in March 2019. VanHorn also earned the LeeAnn Noble Nighthawk Service Award.

She was hired in July as a graduate assistant for the University of West Georgia (UWG) women's soccer team, where she joins the staff of UWG head coach and former UNG assistant coach Stacey Balaam.

"Renee has been hugely successful in the academic arena, on the field of play and leading our community service efforts," UNG Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves said. "She has given tirelessly of herself to be a role model for our 225 student-athletes, and no one is more deserving of this honor."

VanHorn, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president her senior year at UNG, appreciated being part of UNG's efforts that raised more than $100,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation during her college career. She also helped with a food drive for the UNG Food Pantry.

She credits the UNG Department of Athletics for where she is today.

"They were always encouraging me to try new things and take on leadership roles," VanHorn said.

As a player, VanHorn was a two-time All-PBC performer and a three-time all-region honoree. She led the Nighthawks to the 2017 regular-season PBC championship.

Of the 148 nominees who reached the second round, VanHorn was one of 33 from Division II, joining 64 Division I student-athletes and 51 from Division III.

The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will choose the top 30 honorees, with 10 from each division.

The selection committee will determine the top three honorees in each division from the top 30 and announce the nine finalists in September. From those nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then will choose the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year and recognize the top 30 honorees at the annual award ceremony Oct. 20 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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