By Kevin Clack, Sports Editor
Newman aluma Delaney Hiegert, who graduated last spring, is one of nine finalists for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award, marking the first time a Newman student has been nominated for the award since it was created in 1991.
The two year Vantage Editor-In-Chief is also the first nominee from the Heartland Conference ever to be named a top nine finalist.
Hiegert first beat out 128 conference-level nominees to be placed in the top 3 of the Division II section for Woman of the Year this summer. Months after, Hiegert was nominated in the NCAA Woman of the Year awards, and selected to be in the top 30.
“It felt just as good to find out any of these,” she said. “When I won the Heartland Conference Award or top 30, it’s just another thing that reaffirms what I was doing in my undergrad years and reminds me again of the awesome people that helped me do that stuff along the way.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year is a national award honoring academic achievement, athletic excellence, community service and leadership. It is one of the highest awards given by the NCAA. The Woman of the Year award is unique in its recognition of female student-athletes who are not just successful on the field and in the classroom but who have also contributed to their communities and campuses.
“We were thrilled that Delaney got this award, not only for her softball skills but how she represented the school,” associate athletic director Maureen Rohleder said. “She was involved in everything and went to other sports as well to cheer them on. She was someone you’d want on every squad.”
The Topeka native was a four-year member of the Jet softball team, leading the team in hits and runs as a senior and helping the ladies to two Heartland Conference tournaments during her career.
Hiegert helped advocate and launch Newman’s first LGBT+ organization, Kaleidoscope, in 2017. The organization collaborated with the local GLSEN chapter that aims at eliminating discrimination against LGBT+ youths and helped raise over $1,200 for the South Central Health Centers, a local youth mental health organization.
“It’s inspiring to me that there are all of these awesome athletes out here changing the world all across the nation,” Hiegert said. “Look at all these other women, and not just the top 30, but there were almost 600 applicants that are doing great things for their communities and schools and athletic programs.”
Hiegert now studies law at the University of Kansas and plans on pursuing a career in civil rights advocacy after graduation.
“This award has definitely motivated me while I’m here because it reminded me of what I came to law school to accomplish,” she said. “Having that little reminder is nice when I’m in the library for eight hours.”
The awards dinner is set for Oct. 27-28 in Indianapolis, where Hiegert will join the other top eight finalist to see who is named Woman of the Year.
“I’m really excited to meet the other women that are going to be at awards,” she said. “I’m sure they have really amazing stories and are really passionate and have lots of interests. I can’t wait to network and get to know them, that’s going to be really exciting.”
PHOTO: DELANEY HIEGERT will take to Indianapolis later this month to see if she was selected for the NCAA Women of the Year award. Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics.