RICHARDSON, Texas –– East Texas Baptist senior softball student-athlete Lya Swaner – an academic all-American and national champion – has been selected as the American Southwest Conference nominee for the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year ballot, the league office announced Wednesday (June 12) following a vote of the ASC Senior Woman Administrators.
Swaner (St. Paul, Texas / Wylie HS) will join nominees from Division I, II and III conferences on the NCAA Woman of the Year ballot. In its 23rd year, the Woman of the Year award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics manages the nomination and selection process.
“I was shocked and ecstatic when I found out I won this award,” Swaner said. “I am grateful to be recognized by the American Southwest Conference and I’m honored to also represent East Texas Baptist as a NCAA Woman of the Year nominee.”
Swaner, who graduated in May with a double major in biology and chemistry, was a four-year starter for East Texas Baptist. Over that time, she won a NCAA Division III national championship (2010), two conference titles (2011, 2013) and an ASC East Division crown (2011). Playing catcher, she was an all-region, all-conference and all-tournament performer. The team captain also won the 2013 ASC Softball Championship Tournament Most Valuable Player award.
As far as academics, Swaner boasted a 3.86 grade-point average and was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division III Softball Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Also this year Swaner earned an ASC Scholar-Athlete Medal of Honor and was named the league’s Distinguished Scholar-Athlete for softball.
When not on the field or in the classroom, Swaner found time to serve on campus and in the local Marshall, Texas, community. As president of the ETBU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she helped organize participation in charity events such as the Christmas Marathon, Mission Marshall, My Friend’s House (for the homeless) and Strike Out Cancer. Swaner was also instrumental in bringing Special Olympics Texas to Ornelas Gymnasium during basketball season.
“We have been so blessed to have Lya in our program over the past four years,” East Texas Baptist sixth-year softball head coach Janae Schlabs-Shirley said. “Not only has she been an outstanding athletic asset to our program, but she has been a true leader, hard worker and excellent representative of East Texas Baptist University. You will not find a more well-rounded and driven young woman than Lya Swaner.”
Swaner is the second straight East Texas Baptist softball player to be the ASC nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year, following fellow academic All-American and national champion Ashton Brey.
“Lya is deserving of this award because she is a great example of a student-athlete,” said Brey, who was Swaner’s teammate for three years before serving as ETBU’s graduate assistant coach in the 2013 season. “She put just as much effort into her schoolwork as she did into softball. Lya knew what was important and when she needed to make sacrifices. She did all this with a good attitude year after year.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will choose the top 10 winners in Divisions I, II and III in August. From among those 30 honorees, the committee will determine in September the top three in each division with the 2013 NCAA WOTY honoree chosen from the final nine candidates. The top 10 division winners, nine finalists and award recipient will be honored in October at the Woman of the Year Award celebration in Indianapolis.
NOTES: Six ASC institutions submitted candidates for the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. In addition to Swaner, the field included Howard Payne’s Shannon Costello (soccer); Texas-Dallas’ Rachel Houston (tennis); LeTourneau’s Nicole Leman (cross country); Hardin-Simmons’ Madison Reyes (volleyball); and Concordia Texas’ Dalaine Whitlock (soccer). . . . Hardin-Simmons has had the most ASC nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year with five: Amy Kuykendall (2011); Kaela Parnell (2010); Ashley Huston (2009); Virginia Aguilar (2007); and April Johnson (2006). Parnell and Aguilar – both volleyball players – went on to be WOTY award finalists. . . . For more information on the award, visit: http://bit.ly/13ylcPa.
All-Time ASC Nominees for NCAA Women of the Year
Lya Swaner, East Texas Baptist University (Softball)
Ashton Brey, East Texas Baptist University (Softball)
Amy Kuykendall, Hardin-Simmons University (Soccer)
Kaela Parnell, Hardin-Simmons University (Volleyball)
Ashley Huston, Hardin-Simmons University (Track and Field)
Michelle Heckmann, Concordia University Texas (Volleyball)
Tarra Richardson, McMurry University (Basketball)
Virginia Aguilar, Hardin-Simmons University (Volleyball)