STORY COURTESY OF WINGATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
Indianapolis, Ind.----Wingate University 2019 graduate and volleyball standout Anna Holmquist has advanced another step toward one of the most prestigious awards in NCAA athletics, moving on to the final 30 for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The original field for the award included 585 nominees, Holmquist is now one of the final 30 and one of only 10 NCAA Division II student-athletes remaining in the field. She is the first Wingate student-athlete to advance to the top 30 for the Woman of the Year Award since women's soccer All-American Kaitlyn Brunworth in 2017. The last volleyball student-athlete to advance to the final 30 was Grace Krauser in 2013.
"To be included in a field of some of the most remarkable women from across college sports is the highest honor I can possibly imagine," Holmquist says. "I am absolutely full of humility and gratitude. While I am proud of myself and honored on a personal level, I am foremost grateful to the people that helped me become the woman I am today, so many of whom are part of the Wingate community. From Coach Collier and my teammates to my professors, administrators and friends, they surrounded me with support and pushed me to become the best version of myself. I am so lucky to have spent four years in such a loving, empowering, and inspiring place."
Established in 1991, the NCAA Woman of the Year award recognizes graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers. The Top 30 honorees for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award were named by the Woman of the Year selection committee. The honorees were selected from an initial pool of 585 school nominees, a program record. From there, the pool was narrowed by conference offices and a selection committee to move forward 151 nominees for consideration. The Top 30 honorees include 10 from each of the three NCAA divisions, and each has demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. The honorees competed in 13 sports and studied a broad range of academic majors, including neuroscience, anthropology, economics, chemical engineering, political science and communication.
"We are extremely proud that of Anna as she is recognized as one of the top 30 Woman of the Year honorees in the NCAA," Wingate University Vice President and Director of Athletics Steve Poston says. "To take this recognition a step further, it should be noted that she is one of 10 selected from NCAA Division II. Her overall accomplishments are nothing short of impressive. We are excited for her as she takes her place among the best in the NCAA."
In early October, the selection committee will announce the nine finalists, made up of three women from each NCAA division. From those finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year. The Top 30 will be celebrated and the Woman of the Year will be named Oct. 20 at a ceremony in Indianapolis.
"Anna has earned so many academic and athletic awards over the years, and this one is very special for a number of reasons," head coach Shelton Collier says. "When she attends the formal NCAA awards banquet, she will be representing Wingate University and will be among the very top elite athletes from all across the country from all divisions. It will be a unique honor and opportunity for her. As her coach, I am so proud of her for her effort, determination and development in her highly successful career here as a student-athlete."
Holmquist adds this impressive honor to an incredible list of accolades. One of the most decorated student-athletes in SAC history, Holmquist has multiple All-SAC and All-Region honors in her career. A Third team AVCA All-American in 2017, she was named a second team Academic All-America honoree in 2018. The 2017 SAC Elite 20 Award winner was named the SAC Scholar-Athlete in 2018, while also earning the 2019 SAC President's Award, going to the league's top overall student-athlete. She was also named the SAC Woman of the Year. Holmquist earned the Fulbright Scholarship earlier this year, while also earning a $10,000 postgraduate scholarship in February. She was also the recipient of the inaugural Bob McCloskey Insurance Postgraduate Scholarship from the South Atlantic Conference.
A member of the Wingate's President's List every semester of her collegiate career, Holmquist has also been named to the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll every year. The winner of the Geddings Award at the 2019 WUSPYS, going to the school's top overall student-athlete, Holmquist also received the CC Burris Award at the graduation ceremony in May, going to the graduating senior woman who embodies leadership, service and scholarship. She also won the Robert D. Billinger Award, which goes to the most outstanding senior in political science at Wingate.
Holmquist graduated in May of 2019 with a 3.95 GPA, majoring in Political Science. She will use her postgraduate scholarships to continue her education at Pittsburgh, while using the Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Brazil in 2020, where she will be working as a language learning assistant at a University in their Teaching College, helping students who are studying to be English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers.
Holmquist helped lead the Bulldogs to three regular season SAC titles and a pair of SAC Tournament championships in her four years. Wingate also won the 2018 NCAA Southeast Regional title, advancing to the National Quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history. She earned All-American honors as a junior, when she led the SAC and ranked fifth nationally with a school-record .406 hitting percentage. She finished the 2018 regular season as the league leader in hitting percentage for the second straight season, earning all-conference accolades.
Holmquist finished her illustrious career with 691 kills and 256 blocks. She hit .341 for her career, the second-best hitting percentage in program history. The Bulldogs went 116-17 during her four years, with a 75-9 record in league play while picking up five total conference titles and a regional championship. Wingate went 32-2 in Holmquist's senior season, with a 19-1 record in league play, leading the nation in winning percentage.
Holmquist has also done plenty around the Wingate campus and in her hometown in Nebraska. An academic tutor each of her last three years, she was also a research assistant with a political science professor. Holmquist has interned at American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, a non-profit organization, while also volunteering at a Nebraska health/civic awareness festival and with the Inspector General of Child Welfare of Nebraska. She was an undergraduate presenter at the North Carolina Political Science Association annual conference last spring. Holmquist also published a paper in the Wingate Research Review titled "Analyzing HPV Vaccination Policy" in the fall of 2018.
A Peer Mentor for Gateway 101 at Wingate, Holmquist also volunteered at Lincoln Lighthouse, an after-school nonprofit that helps at-risk youth graduate from high school and gives them a safe and engaging place, while also volunteering at Lincoln Literacy, helping to connect non-English speakers with tutors. She has volunteered with a Nebraska legislative campaign while also coaching volleyball for middle school and high school girls each of the last four years.
NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
The NCAA Woman of the Year program honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions. To be eligible, a nominee must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport, must have completed eligibility in her primary sport, and must have earned her undergraduate degree by Summer 2019.
Eligible female student-athletes are nominated by their member school. Each conference office then reviews the nominations from its core member schools (and sponsored sports) and submits its conference nominee(s) to the NCAA. All nominees who compete in a sport that is not sponsored by their school's primary conference, as well as associate conference nominees and independent nominees, will be sent to a separate pool to be considered by a committee. 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.