INDIANAPOLIS -- Already one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history, Texas A&M swimmer Sarah Gibson was announced as one of the NCAA’s Today’s Top 10 Award winners and will be honored at the NCAA Convention in January of 2018.
· The award recognizes former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Recipients completed their athletics eligibility during the 2016-17 academic year and will be recognized at the Honors Celebration on Jan. 17 during the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
· As a competitor, Gibson was a seven-time Southeastern Conference champion and 15-time NCAA All-American (11-time first-team honoree). In 2017, Gibson was the SEC Swimmer of the Meet and recipient of the Commissioner’s Trophy, which is awarded to the high-point producer at the SEC Championships.
· In the classroom, Gibson was the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year in 2017, as well as a two-time first-team Academic All-American in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, she was Texas A&M’s first winner of the SEC’s coveted H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athlete of the Year award in 2017 and the 2017 SEC Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year in swimming and diving.
· On the world stage, Gibson helped the United States’ 400 medley relay to a gold medal at the 2016 FINA World Championships.
Complete release from the NCAA
NCAA names 2018 Today’s Top 10 recipients
Outstanding former student-athletes to be recognized at 2018 Convention
December 7, 2017
By Meghan Durham, NCAA
In January, 10 exceptional former student-athletes will be honored as the 2018 Today’s Top 10 Award winners at the NCAA Convention.
The award recognizes former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Recipients completed their athletics eligibility during the 2016-17 academic year and will be recognized at the Honors Celebration on Jan. 17 during the Convention in Indianapolis.
The NCAA Honors Committee, which selects the honorees, is composed of representatives from member schools and conferences, as well as nationally distinguished former college athletes.
Before 2013, the award recognized eight student-athletes and was known as Today’s Top VIII. The NCAA Honors Committee expanded the award to include 10 honorees to recognize the growing number of college athletes, sports and championship opportunities.
The following former student-athletes are the 2018 Today’s Top 10 awardees:
Major: Mechanical engineering
Former Auburn softball standout Kasey Cooper holds the Southeastern Conference record for career runs batted in (270) and 12 school records, including career RBIs, home runs, slugging percentage and games played and started. In 2016, the same year that she made the U.S. Women’s National Team, Cooper was named the espnW Player of the Year and a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American. Cooper was the Division I softball NCAA Elite 90 Award winner, presented to the student-athlete competing at a championship final site with the highest grade-point average. Cooper, a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American, also was a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and published two medical research papers. In 2017, Cooper received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Cooper also regularly volunteered with the Alabama Power Service Organization and served as a group leader for the Auburn Leadership Institute/CONNECT.
School: Saint Leo
Sport: Women’s golf
Marie Coors, the reigning Division II individual national champion in women’s golf, excelled academically and athletically. In 2017, the same year she won the golf title, she earned College Sports Information Directors of America Division II Academic All-America of the Year honors and won the NCAA Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete competing at a championship final site with the highest grade-point average. Coors also is a four-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America Scholar and three-time Saint Leo Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 2017, Coors received Saint Leo’s Clara McDonald Olson Scholastic Excellence Award, presented to the member of the graduating class with the highest GPA over four years. Coors won individual Sunshine State Conference golf titles in 2014 and 2016, and was twice named the conference Women’s Golfer of the Year. Off the course, Coors served as a member of the Saint Leo Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She also was actively involved in the community, volunteering with a local nursing home program and nearby schools, where she tutored math students after school and helped kindergartners safely get to their classrooms.
School: Washington U. in St. Louis
Major: Biomedical engineering
Sport: Women’s soccer
2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Lizzy Crist led the Washington U. in St. Louis women’s soccer team to one NCAA national championship and three conference championships. She was named the D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year in two straight seasons and was honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as the National Player of the Year in 2016. Crist also was named the NCAA Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the 2015 and 2016 Division III championships. Crist holds school records for single-season shutouts (13) and all-time shutouts (31), and she tied the school record for total wins in a single season (19). Crist earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors and was named the 2016 NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year. Crist also collected multiple academic accolades on campus, including the 2017 Outstanding Senior Biomedical Engineering Achievement Award and the Ethan A.H. Shepley Award in recognition of leadership, scholarship and community service. Crist tutored engineering students and volunteered as an experiment leader for Einstein Explorers, a student organization that demonstrates science experiments for patients at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. In 2017, Crist received the W. Alfred Hayes Award in recognition of athletes who provided constructive leadership at the university.
Majors: Psychology, political science
Sport: Women’s swimming and diving
Danielle Galyer competed for Kentucky at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships all four years of college and won an individual title in the 200-yard backstroke in 2016, making her the first swimming national champion in school history. Galyer is a four-time College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America All-American. The former team captain currently holds two school records (800 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay) and helped lead Kentucky to its highest team finish in a decade (14th) at the 2017 NCAA championships. She was a two-time recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 Award, presented to the student-athlete competing at a championship final site with the highest grade-point average. She earned four CSCAA All-Academic honors, two College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors, and two Southeastern Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year honors. In 2017, she was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Galyer served three years on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, including as president her senior year. She also volunteered at local elementary schools and helped with fundraising for Louisiana flood victims. In 2016, Galyer was inducted into the University of Kentucky Frank G. Ham Society of Character, an honor recognizing commitment to athletics, academics, community service, career development and personal development. She now is working toward earning her law degree at Florida.
School: Texas A&M
Major: Biomedical engineering
Sport: Women’s swimming and diving
Sarah Gibson, a former swimmer at Texas A&M, holds six school records — the 200-yard freestyle, 100 fly, 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. She is an 11-time College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America All-American and a seven-time Southeastern Conference individual or relay champion. In 2016-17, Gibson represented the United States in international competition, including placing first at the FINA World Championships in the 4x100 medley relay. She excelled academically, as well, and earned the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America of the Year honor in 2016-17. Gibson was awarded the SEC’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athlete of the Year Award and postgraduate scholarship in 2017, in addition to three CSCAA Scholar All-American honors during her career. She also is a recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Gibson dedicated time to serving her community, volunteering for four years with the Special Olympics and for two years at Sports Fest, where she served as an instructor for 125 children during a sports camp.
School: Concordia-St. Paul
Sport: Women’s volleyball
Riley Hanson helped lead Concordia-St. Paul to Division II national championships in women’s volleyball in 2013 and 2016. She was a two-time Female Athlete of the Year at the school, and she earned three American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honors, in addition to four all-conference accolades in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Hanson also is a two-time recipient of College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors and she was named 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year. In 2017, she was named her school’s Scholar Student-Athlete of the Year, and she received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Hanson was a three-year member of the Concordia-St. Paul Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, including serving as vice president during her senior year. She volunteered with the Tetra Delta Science Club, which organized educational seminars to prepare students for graduate school and promote social networking through extracurriculars. She also coached youth volleyball all four years. Hanson now is studying to become a dentist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Sport: Men’s tennis
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, a former Virginia men’s tennis player, won the individual 2017 NCAA Division I national championship in singles competition and led Virginia to three straight team NCAA titles (2015, 2016 and 2017) and the 2017 Intercollegiate Tennis Association national team indoor title. Kwiatkowski is a three-time ITA All-American and a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference member. Twice named Virginia’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, he was the ACC’s Men’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year for two years and was a four-time ACC All-Academic Team member. In 2017, Kwiatkowski also was named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar, and he qualified for the athletics honor roll in seven semesters.
School: Stevens Institute of Technology
Major: Engineering, systems analytics
Sport: Women’s cross country and track and field
Amy Regan, a six-time NCAA individual national champion in cross country and track and field, became the first Stevens Institute of Technology runner ever to reach the NCAA Division III cross country championships, doing so her freshman year in 2012. A 14-time U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association of America All-American, Regan is a two-time USTFCCCA Cross Country National Athlete of the Year (2014 and 2016) and earned USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Year honors in indoor and outdoor track in 2016. Regan also is a four-time Empire 8 Conference cross country champion and Runner of the Year, and she was named the conference Indoor Track Athlete of the Year three times and Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year once. Regan holds school records in numerous female distance events in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. She is a two-time female USTFCCCA Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2015 and 2016), and she received two College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors. She earned her master’s degree in engineering, and she received the 2017 Frederick Winslow Taylor Award, which is presented to the most influential thinker in modern management theory and application at Stevens Institute of Technology. Regan also donated time to Special Olympics and volunteered several times with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s PB&J for the homeless program. In 2017, she volunteered with Girls on the Run as a coach, and she also served as the student member officer for the Engineering Management Honor Society on campus, for which she reviewed and nominated engineering management students to the honor society.
School: Washington U. in St. Louis
Major: Electrical engineering
Sport: Men’s track and field
A three-time individual NCAA champion and five-time U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-American, Deko Ricketts led Washington U. in St. Louis to three University Athletic Association indoor track and field team titles and two UAA outdoor track and field team titles. In 2016, Ricketts was named the UAA Outdoor Most Outstanding Performer in Running Events. Ricketts won four individual conference titles for indoor track and field and four individual conference titles for outdoor track and field. He holds multiple school records, including the indoor 800 meters, 4x400 relay and distance medley relay and the outdoor 800 meters and 4x400 relay. In 2017, Ricketts earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors and was named USTFCCCA Scholar Athlete of the Year for indoor and outdoor track. He also is a four-time USTFCCCA All-Academic team member and a two-time UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete. Ricketts received the Professional Achievement Award for the electrical and systems engineering department in 2017, in addition to the 2014 Robert N. Varney Physics Award. Ricketts served as a member of the university’s search committee for an athletics director. He also invented a remotely operated uncoupling system during a senior design project, and served as a project leader for a wireless charging engineering project, an endotracheal tube redesign business project, and the See3 LLC 3-D hologram engineering project.
Majors: Management science, engineering
Sport: Women’s water polo
Stanford water polo standout Maggie Steffens is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, including the 2012 games in London and the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, where she captained the U.S. team. She also is a two-time Olympic MVP in water polo and helped the U.S. win two FINA women’s water polo world championships. On campus, Steffens led Stanford to three NCAA championships, and she was named the 2017 NCAA tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Steffens is a two-time Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Player of the Year, four-time ACWPC All-American and four-time finalist for the Peter J. Cutino Award, which recognizes the top female collegiate water polo student-athlete. In 2016-17, Steffens received the Al Masters Award, presented to the top student-athlete at Stanford, and she also was the recipient of the 2017 Stanford Athletics Board Bob Murphy Award, presented to the student-athlete whose unforgettable performance in an athletics contest secures a place in Stanford athletics history. She is the first Stanford women’s water polo player to receive College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors and is a four-year ACWPA All-Academic selection. In 2017, she was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Throughout her time in college, Steffens volunteered for Project 2020, a nonprofit focused on bringing water safety and sport opportunities to underprivileged kids, in addition to volunteering at local elementary schools and serving as a guest speaker for multiple summits and panels about women’s sports.