William Smith College soccer’s Madeline Buckley ’15 was one of a record 147 NCAA female student-athletes named 2015 Woman of the Year honorees by conference and independent schools. Buckley, the 2015 Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup collegiate recipient, and the other honorees were selected from a record 480 student-athletes nominated for the award.
Now in its 25th year, the Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service and leadership.
Buckley was one of two honorees from the Liberty League. She is also the third straight Heron to achieve this honor. Heron soccer’s Olivia Zitoli ’14 was named an NCAA Woman of the Year honoree last year, and William Smith cross country’s Emily D’Addario’13 was named an honoree in 2013.
This year Buckley was also named the Liberty League’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. An NSCAA All-American and the 2014 Liberty League Player of the Year, Buckley led William Smith with 27 points and 11 goals this season. In her four years, she has helped the Herons to four straight Liberty League regular season and tournament titles and four trips to the NCAA tournament, including the 2013 national title. Buckley finished her career ranked 10th on the all-time William Smith list with 83 career points, tied for 10th with 33 career goals and tied for 18th with 17 career assists.
Off the field, Buckley was the soccer’s team ambassador for Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illness. Buckley is an active supporter of the B+ Foundation, an organization which honors the memory of Andrew McDonough, a 14-year old athlete from her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. She also dedicated a great deal of time as a student working with a program called Geneva Heroes, helping local middle school and high school students with team-building and developing leadership skills.
Buckley was a three-year member of the William Smith Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served as the student-representative on the Heron Society Board of Directors. She also excelled in the classroom, earning a degree in critical studies in May. Buckley was tabbed a NSCAA Scholar All-American, a CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District honoree twice, and a Liberty League All-Academic selection three times.
The honorees for the NCAA Woman of the Year are from 18 different sports spanning all three NCAA divisions. Of those recognized, 57 honorees competed in Division I, 39 competed in Division II and 51 competed in Division III.
The NCAA encourages member schools to honor its top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award. Then, conferences assess each nominee’s eligibility and select up to two conference nominees. All conference nominees are forwarded to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three nominees from each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses from among those nine to determine the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year.
William Smith soccer’s Olivia Zitoli ’14 was selected one of the top 30 for the award last fall. Cynthia Olyer Teerlink ’93 was selected the NCAA New York Woman of the Year in 1993 and selected as one of 10 finalists for the Woman of the Year award. Lisa Krug ’99 was named the NCAA New York Woman of the Year in 1999. The NCAA previously announced 52 state-level winners, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, before narrowing the field to 10 finalists.
The 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced, and the Top 30 honorees celebrated, at the annual award ceremony Oct. 18 in Indianapolis.