Courtesy: Concordia Chicago sports information
WAUKESHA, Wis. (naccsports.org) --- Concordia University Chicago's Chelsee Wilson (Shawneetown, Ill. / Grayslake North HS) has been named the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Woman of the Year for the 2017-18 academic year, as chosen by the league's Senior Woman Administrators Standing Committee (SWASC).
Athletically, Wilson was one who truly saved her best for last. She was the first CUC athlete to qualify for track and field nationals in all four years of competition. Wilson qualified in individual events during her first three years – twice in the 200-meter dash and once in the 100-meter dash – and her final appearance at the NACC Track and Field Outdoor Championships on May 4-5 saw her bring home her first conference championship in the 100 with a time of 12.49 seconds. She also finished second in both the 200 and 400 dashes, helping the CUC women to a second-place finish at the meet.
Wilson was named the NACC Track Athlete of the Meet, but her individual performances were just part of the story. This year, Wilson ran in both the 4 x 100-meter and 4 x 400-meter relays, and NACC championships in both events was just the beginning of their late-season odysseys. Both groups went on to qualify for the nationals the following week at North Central College's Gregory Invitational, and the 4 x 400 would run like lightning all the way to the finals, where they ran a school and conference record time of 3:46.29 for sixth place overall and All-American honors.
"Words cannot describe how proud I am that Chelsee has received this award from the NACC," said CUC head track and field coach Phil Kopinski. "What she has been able to do as a leader off of the track, around this campus and in the community is far greater than her numerous accolades on the track. Her commitment and passion to everything she does makes her the perfect person for this award. She has embodied the definition of student-athlete for the past four years. Who she is as a person has left a big imprint on this program and university, and I couldn't be happier for her."
Wilson's story is all the more amazing when one considers that she was not going to compete in the sport after high school, due to heart complications and the daunting challenge of academics. However, she wanted to prove to herself that she was "stronger than (her) uncertainties." Athletically, the proof came through her 10 school records and two conference records in addition to her merits in 2018. Away from the track, Wilson worked four jobs simultaneously for three years and also volunteered at a Senior Center and Feed My Starving Children, led a mental health outreach group, aided in the rebuilding of several disaster areas and designed and carried out an anthropological study around the idea of "Chicago Poverty Culture." Wilson was recognized in 2017 for all her efforts with the Northwestern Mutual Leadership Award.
Throughout all her accomplishments, Wilson states she is "humbled" by the world around her. "My service projects and scholarly studies have been met with adversity, devastation and trial, but they provided me with an understanding of humanity, compassion and perseverance." As for her athletic achievements, she says modestly that "work is not done alone when it comes to a sport, and my accomplishments belong to my coaches and teammates as well for the work they did beside me."
"College was the right choice for me," noted Wilson. "Between walking across that stage and crossing that last finish line, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given."
Each of the NACC's 12 members may nominate one female student-athlete for the annual award. The SWASC uses a combination of the following criteria in the selection of the award -- athletic excellence, academic achievement, service and leadership and personal statement -- and moves the award winner forward as the NACC's honoree for the NCAA's Woman of the Year award.
The NCAA 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.
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 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced, and the Top 30 honorees celebrated, at the annual award ceremony October 28 in Indianapolis.
NACC Woman of the Year Award Recipients By Year:
2017-18: Chelsee Wilson, Concordia Chicago
2016-17: Holly Haberkorn, Benedictine
2015-16: Nicci Bermudes, Aurora
2014-15: Loretta Johnson, Aurora
2013-14: Jenee Lange, Aurora
2012-13: Torey DeLozier, Maranatha
2011-12: Carol Cayo, MSOE
2010-11: Cait Hartman, Aurora
2009-10: KC Blahnik, Lakeland
2008-09: Megan Scheele, Edgewood
2007-08: Catherine Chappell, MSOE
2006-07: Emily Henrich, Wisconsin Lutheran