LANCASTER, Pa. -- Washington College's Kailyn Brandt and Haverford's Jessica Lopez have been chosen as the Centennial Conference nominees for the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year award. The Centennial nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year are selected annually by the conference Senior Woman Administrators.
Brandt and Lopez were selected from among a group of seven candidates submitted by CC member institutions. Brandt is the second Washington College student-athlete and Lopez is the fourth Haverford student-athlete to earn the CC's nomination for NCAA Woman of the Year. Washington College's previous nominee was Jackie Creitz in 2017, while Haverford's previous recipients include Aislinn Sowash (2007), Emily Hinchcliff (2008), and Josie Ferri (2012).
Now in its 31st 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. Every year, the NCAA encourages each member college and university to honor its top one or two graduating female student-athletes by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award.
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 2021. Click here for more information on the award and a list of previous winners.
A standout forward and team captain on the Shorewomen field hockey team, Brandt finished her career with a number of noteable accolades. As a freshman in 2017, she earned CC Rookie of the Year honors after setting a Washington College program record with 26 points in her opening campaign. In just three seasons, she compiled 57 points (24 goals, 9 assists), was a three-time All-Centennial honoree, including two first-team accolades, and a two-time All-South Region second team selection. She was the first-ever Washington College field hockey player to earn a spot on the All-Centennial first team as a frehsman.
Earlier this year, Brandt was honored with an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, an award bestowed upon just 126 student-athletes across all three NCAA divisions each year. She has also collected several distinguished honors from the Washington College athletic department, including the Elizabeth "Bo" Blanchard Memorial Sportsmanship Award in 2020 and the Senior Athletic Award in 2021. The Elizabeth "Bo" Blanchard Memorial Sportsmanship Award is given to the junior athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, dedication, and sportsmanship, while the Senior Athletic Award is awarded to the athlete who achieved the most in athletics at Washington College.
A biology major and chemistry minor from White Hall, Md., Brandt graduated this spring with a 3.92 cumulative grade point average and departmental honors in biology. She was a four-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Scholar of Distinction and National Academic Squad honoree, and a three-time CC Academic Honor Roll member. A perennial Dean's List student, Brandt was inducted as a Phi Beta Kappa Member in spring 2021 and also received Washington College's Pre-Allied Health Award.
In addition to a lengthy list of athletic and academic accomplishments, Brandt also proved to be a leader and mentor on campus and in the community. She served as president of Washington College's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) since its reformation in the fall of 2018, developing and facilitating initiatives promoting team unity, community outreach, and career development among student-athletes. She was also a key contributor to the Centennial Conference SAAC as Washington College's conference representative. Brandt's other leadership roles included serving as president of the Beta Beta Biological Honor Society and earning memberships in the Washington College Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows, the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and National Society of Leadership and Success. To help alleviate the strain placed on our healthcare system due to COVID-19, Brandt began working as a nursing technician at the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Center last February. Her additional leadership and community experience includes coaching youth field hockey, assisting in the athletic communications department, representing the Washington College Biology Department and Pre-Allied Health as a panelist during Washington College Math and Science Day, being selected as an intern for the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and the Children's National Medical Center for Pediatric Cardiology, along with being named a research fellow for Washington College's John S. Toll Research Fellowship program.
A sprinter, jumper, and captain for the Haverford track & field team, Lopez concluded her career as a two-time all-region selection by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association of America (USTFCCCA), and a 12-time All-Centennial honoree in the indoor and outdoor seasons. Her 12 All-Centennial awards include five individual silver medals in the 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash (three times), and triple jump. She collected 10 individual titles at meets throughout her career and ranks among Haverford's top-10 all-time performers in eight different events.
An anthropology major and health studies minor from South Pasadena, Calif. Lopez graduated this spring with a 3.81 cumulative grade point average. She received the Wyatt MacGaffey Thesis Award in Athropology for the class of 2021, which recognizes an outstanding thesis in anthropology at Haverford. Lopez was a three-time member of the CC Academic Honor Roll in both the winter and spring seasons, thrice earned Academic All-Centennial honors, and also earned multiple academic honors from the USTFCCCA.
Lopez also stood apart as a leader in the Haverford community. She co-founded and co-led the Athletes of Color Coalition (AOCC) to provide support for athletes of color, dismantle racism and elitism, and collaborate with campus leaders to create programming, promote a culture of diversity, and create space for athletes to build networks of support. Lopez was also elected as Officer of Athletics by the entire Haverford student body, leading the athletics community through a difficult year with the pandemic. Her additional leadership roles included serving as a teacher's assistant for the chair of the Haverford Anthropology Department, utilizing a stipend from the Haverford Microfinance & Impact Investing Initiative to work as a market analyst at ROAR for Good, a wearable technology startup, leading the Tri-Co Consulting Bootcamp, an eight-week management consulting bootcamp for 90 Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore students, and participating in the AESOP Academy, a series of lectures, mock client scenarios, and group project cases. Lopez also completed a marketing and communications internship at Shift Capital via the Whitehead Internship Program, and interned at the Wellness Center Los Angeles, where she helped patients gain permanent access to low-cost public transportation, created a bilingual video for patients, and co-authored a $360,000 grant application to secure funding for trauma care.
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 top 30 honorees will be announced in September, and the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced later in the fall.