RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. - The Great American Conference unveiled the list of nominees for the league's Female Athlete of the Year award to be presented at the GAC Night of Champions on June 17 at the Bricktown Event Center in Oklahoma City.
Administrators from the 11 current members of the league will vote on the following nominees to determine the overall conference honoree. All 11 will be recognized at the Night of Champions.
Tickets to the Night of Champions are $25 per person and can be reserved by emailing GAC Assistance Commissioner Audra Tope at firstname.lastname@example.org. The GAC Sports Network will webcast the event for free at www.gacsportsnetwork.com.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT MONTICELLO: Maggie Sands (Softball)
Hometown: Ferris, Texas
Supportive Information: Sands, the First-Team All-GAC Designated Player selection, led the Cotton Blossoms with a .364 average. She opened the season with a 33-game on-base streak and she tallied a team-leading 17 multi-hit games. She twice received the NFCA Scholar Athlete Award and Division II Athletics Directors Academic Achievement Awards in 2011-12.
Quote from Arkansas-Monticello Softball Coach Alvy Early: "Maggie has maintained an excellent balance with her athletic career and her academic responsibilities. Maggie's name has become a fixture on the "Chancellor's List" during her tenure at UAM. Maggie is a very impressive individual. Although somewhat reserved, she works
untiringly to do her best at whatever she attempts. Maggie is well respected by faculty, staff, students, and
teammates; and is recognized as an individual that is driven to succeed and achieve her goals."
ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY: Rosie Silva (Basketball)
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Supportive Information: Silva led the Golden Suns to GAC regular-season and tournament titles as she won both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. She garnered the Defensive Player of the Year honor for a second straight year. Set the ATU single-season and career records for steals as she earned Third-Team All-American honors.
Quote from Arkansas Tech Basketball Coach Dave Wilbers: "Roselis demonstrated leadership qualities and was respected by her peers, coaches, and teammates. She was an important member of our team and still is in the community and at Arkansas Tech. She has been dependable, a role model for future Golden Suns, and one of the best recruiters for our program. She has done several community projects outside of basketball. She was the motivational speaker for several motivational clinics around the Russellville area with elementary student speaking on the topic, 'Make the RIGHT decisions in life!'"
EAST CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: Shelby Simmons (Softball)
Hometown: North Richland Hills, Texas
Supportive Information: Simmons received GAC Player of the Year award and led ECU to a 42-13 record. She led the GAC in batting average and on-base percentage. One year after being the nation's toughest player to strike out, she ranked fifth in the category in 2013. She earned Daktronics First-Team All Central Region and Honorable Mention All-American honors.
Quote from East Central Softball Coach Destini Anderson: "I have come to appreciate [Shelby's] many fine
qualities as I have watched her grow as a player and person. Because of her strong leadership skills, her
teammates look to her for guidance and advice. Often she is asked to complete tasks that are not her own
because we know she will get them done correctly. Off the field she is an outstanding student and has
participated in many community activities. During her tenure at ECU she has set goals for herself that she has exceeded. She has been a great asset to our softball program and University."
HARDING UNIVERSITY: Mollie Arnold (Volleyball)
Hometown: Bono, Arkansas
Supportive Information: Arnold led the Lady Bisons to the GAC regular-season and tournament titles. She
unanimously won the GAC Player of the Year award and added the GAC Tournament MVP award. She earned honorable mention All-American honors from the AVCA. She led the conference - and ranked among the top 20 in the nation - in kills per set and points per set
Quote from Harding Volleyball Coach Meredith Fear: "I highly recommend Mollie Arnold for the GAC Female Athlete of the Year. When the game is on the line, Mollie will come through. She is the complete player with a skill set of many Division 1 hitters. She is invaluable to our team. Mollie is not only a standout athlete, but also a great student and a person with the highest character. She has gone beyond the court and classroom to give her time to others. This year, she participated in a spring break campaign to Honduras and has been a participant in service days each year.
HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY: Kendall Earp (Golf)
Hometown: Waco, Texas
Supportive Information: Earp won three individual medalist honors, including at the GAC Championships. She carded the first sub-par round at a GAC Championship. She became the first golfer in the history of the program to win at a conference tournament. She led the Lady Reddies to their first-ever NCAA Regional berth- at which she tied for sixth place.
Quote from Henderson State Senior Woman Administrator Rhonda Thigpen: "This young lady has accomplished more in one year for women's golf than anyone else in the history of the program. She has made her mark in golf for the conference and represented both the conference and the university very well at the regional meet. Kendall displayed an outstanding work ethic on and off the golf course. As a biology major [Kendall] has a very challenging schedule as a student athlete. She is a true leader by example and is always willing to offer her teammates a helping hand."
NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Taylor Marsh (Soccer)
Hometown: Mansfield, Texas
Supportive Information: Marsh, the Rangers captain, earned First-Team All-GAC honors. She finished her career at Northwestern seventh all-time in total points, fifth in goals scored (14) and fourth in shot attempts. She claimed the Northwestern Oklahoma State Female Athlete of the Year award.
Quote from Northwestern Oklahoma State Soccer Coach Kasey Mahaffey: "Taylor was our captain and someone we could rely on to lead the team on and off the field. She was a very consistent player for us - not only because of her skill level and athleticism - but also because of the way she communicated. She was a vocal leader for us, whether it was getting players in the right spots or getting them motivated. She also excelled in the classroom, graduating with a degree in marketing. She leaves as one of our all-time leaders in shots, total points and goals scored and will be greatly missed!"
OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: Monica Williams (Basketball)
Hometown: Horn Lake, Mississippi
Supportive Information: Williams earned the GAC Newcomer of the Year and made the All-GAC First Team and GAC All-Tournament team. She claimed two Player of the Week honors as she led the GAC in scoring and ranked third in rebounding. She finished in the top 10 in the GAC in six categories. She reached the top 10 for seven OBU single-season records.
Quote from Ouachita Baptist Basketball Coach Garry Crowder: "Monica had arguably the best season of any individual I have ever coached in my 34 years of coaching at the prep and college level. Her contributions on the court are obvious, leading the GAC in scoring averaging nearly 20 points per game and placing very high in several other statistical categories. But what may have made Monica one of the most valuable players I have ever coached are the intangible traits she possesses. She is a natural team leader both vocally and by example. Her team-first attitude brought about the best in her teammates."
SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Jacee Bennett (Softball)
Hometown: Colbert, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Jacee helped Southeastern burst onto the national scene early in the season as the Savage Storm won NFCA Division II Leadoff Classic by beating three top-10 teams and two that received votes. Southeastern spent the rest of the regular season ranked in the top five. She went 21-5 with a 2.17 ERA with 188 strikeouts. She led the nation with nine saves.
Quote from Southeastern Oklahoma State Softball Coach Ron Faubion: "I consider it an honor to recommend Jacee for GAC Female Athlete of the Year. Jacee was the GAC Pitcher of the Year and a First-Team All-Central Region pick after helping Southeastern to the GAC Tournament and regular-season [titles]. She was named GAC Pitcher of the Year five times. She was also National Pitcher of the Week after being named the Most Outstanding Pitcher at the NFCA Division II Leadoff Classic. She made the Athletics Directors Honor Roll this spring. She is highly motivated, very efficient and does outstanding work."
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY: Hanna Gill (Softball)
Hometown: Albany, Louisiana
Supportive Information: Gill led the GAC in innings pitched, strikeouts, appearances, games started and complete games. She earned First-Team All-GAC honors and a National Pitcher of the Week award. She finished the year owning the SAU career records for wins, innings pitched, game started and complete games. She threw the first no-hitter in GAC Tournament history.
Quote from Southern Arkansas Softball Coach Corey Lyon: "On the field, Hanna is self motivated, competitive, hard working, dedicated to perfecting her craft, a leader, a great teammate and a winner. Off the field, she is kind, genuine, selfless, honest, well spoken and incredibly intelligent. In short, Hanna is a person that has every quality a Coach wants in a player. She is the type of young woman that I hope my daughters grow up to be."
SOUTHERN NAZARENE UNIVERSITY: Oumoul Thiam (Basketball)
Hometown: St. Louis, Senegal
Supportive Information: In her first year competing against a GAC schedule, Thiam helped the Crimson Storm to a 21-10 record and a share of third place. She picked up First-Team All-GAC honors after leading the conference with 14 20-point games. She finished her career at Southern Nazarene with close to 1,500 points.
Quote from Southern Nazarene Basketball Coach Derek Norris: "Oumoul has had tremendous dedication and work ethic. Her ability to adapt and fight through challenges above the normal student-athlete has been
inspiring and uplifting. I feel that Oumoul will be a success at whatever she attempts because of the
perseverance she has shown."
SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Josie Price (Soccer)
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Price led the Lady Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season and the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Price won the GAC Offensive Player of the Year and she became the first First-Team All-American in team history after leading the GAC in points and assists.. She graduated as SWOSU's all-time leader in points, assists and shots on goal.
Quote from Southwestern Oklahoma State Soccer Coach Mark Persson: "Josie has represented the SWOSU soccer program with excellence and class since her arrival in Weatherford. She has an exceptional work ethic and was rewarded with a phenomenal senior season. Her passion, excellence and leadership have laid the foundation for the great turnaround of SWOSU soccer. Josie epitomizes the qualities of strength, character and grace that we all strive to encourage in our SWOSU women's soccer team."