By TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech University Athletic Department has announced the names of six finalists for the school's 2016 Woman of the Year Award, with the winner to be announced Sunday, July 17.
To be eligible for the Woman of the Year Award, a student-athlete must be a senior or graduate student who has completed her athletic eligibility during 2015-16. Criteria for selecting the award include both athletic and academic accomplishments, as well as additional areas such as community and campus involvement and public service activities.
The Woman of the Year Award was established in 1991, and 28 winners have been selected in the previous 25 years, including three years with co-winners. The previous winners are:
1991 - Dana Scott (Basketball)
1992 - Cecilia Ramsey (Basketball)
1993 - Bonnie Zoss (Volleyball/Track/BB)
1994 - Beth Keylon (Softball)
1995 - Taunya Lovelace (Basketball)
1996 - Merrie Robin Caldwell (CC/Track)
1997 - Dena Adams (Track/CC)
1998 - Rachel Melchiorre (Volleyball)
1999 - Amber Clark (Basketball)
2000 - Diane Seng (Basketball/Volleyball)
and Collin Carmichael (Basketball)
2001 - Rachael Gobble (Basketball)
and Adrienne Fortmann (Softball)
2002- Janet Holt (Basketball)
2003 - LeeAnne Mongar (Softball)
2004 - Alexis Boyd (Soccer)
and Andrea Brown (Basketball)
2005 - Laura Sidorowicz (Volleyball)
2006 - Anne Morrow (Volleyball)
2007 - Kayla Garrison (Golf)
2008 - Beth Boden (Softball)
2009 - Kappy Lang (Volleyball)
2010 - Teresa Craig (Volleyball)
2011 - Brooke Mayo (Soccer)
2012 - Lindsey Reed (Soccer)
2013 - Kellie Cook (Basketball)
2014 – Meghan O'Donoghue (CC/Track)
The Awards Committee has selected two members from both the basketball and golf teams, and one each from volleyball and soccer. The finalists, listed in alphabetical order, are:
Taylor Blazei | Senior | Harford, Wis. | Soccer
A leader on and off the field, Taylor Blazei defined the term student-athlete. On the pitch, the 5-foot-7 senior served as a critical piece in Tech's offensive puzzle, finishing third on the club with 24 shots. Blazei collected a goal and an assist in 2015, earning the proud distinction of scoring the first ever goal under the lights at Tech Soccer Field after finding the back of the net in the season-opener against Little Rock on Aug. 21. As one of two team captains, the Hartford, Wis. native play a pivotal role in leading TTU to its most conference wins in one season in school history, a second place OVC finish, the highest in 15 years, a regular season winning record for the first time in over a decade, and the first postseason appearance in six years, culminating in a trip to the OVC Tournament semifinals. Off the pitch, Blazei excelled in the classroom as the senior forward was named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in both semesters, including taking home a spot on the Gold Club during the fall, recognizing those students with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She finished her four-year career with a cumulative GPA of 3.47. Blazei's community efforts were evident as well with the senior forward lending a hand as a Mustard Seed Ranch Tutor as well as working Purple Palooza, Race After Dark and the Mustard Seed Ranch Benefit.
Mariah Dean | Senior | Bakersfield, Calif. | Basketball
Mariah has been a key player on the women's basketball team both on and off the court for all four years. A true leader and role model, Dean constantly displays a positive attitude and works hard every day to better herself and the team. For her leadership on and off the court, Dean was honored with the prestigious Frank Porter Award her junior and senior seasons, and received the team's leading rebounder award this year for averaging 6.6 boards per game. After suffering an injury early on her senior season, Dean continued to work hard to return to the court midway through the season and start 10 of the 19 games she participated in. She posted three double-doubles and set a career-high six blocks to help lead the Golden Eagles to a school record 13 blocks versus Jacksonville State. She also set career highs in the 2015-16 season in points (15 vs. EIU) and rebounds (16 vs. JSU). Over her four years in the Purple and Gold, she saw action in 96 games (starting 14), shot 44.2 percent from the field (163-369), 100 percent from the 3-point range (1-1), and 58.1 percent from the line (75-129). She grabbed 351 rebounds, put up 79 blocks, and tallied 45 steals.
Cody Dodd | Senior | Cookeville, Tenn. | Volleyball
Cody Dodd has been an asset to the Tech volleyball team all four years in the Purple and Gold. She acquired a career-record 30-kills against SIUE and Jacksonville State in 2015, as well as posted a career-high 23 digs versus Murray State. She placed herself in the 1,000 kill club this past year, rounding out her career with an impressive 1,261 kills. Over her four years at Tech, she also notched 776 digs, 284 blocks, and 128 service aces. She was three-times named the adidas® Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week on the 2015 year, and received post-season honors being named to the All-OVC first team. She ended her senior season at the top of the OVC standings, lead all other conference players in kills (515), service aces (52), and points (607.0) In the NCAA, Dodd found herself ranked 17th in kills and 10th in service aces and points. Dodd was also selected as one of 36 athletes to participate in the U.S. Collegiate National Team (CNT) program that trained and competed in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships in New Orleans, La. in June of 2015. Dodd was also named the winner of the 2015 Katherine Brown Female Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Cookeville Sports Council.
Maddi Everts | Senior | Ooltewah, Tenn. | Golf
Hampered by injury for much of her career, Maddi Everts never used the pain as an excuse, including during her fourth and final season as a member of the Golden Eagles. Despite being limited to 27 rounds, the senior co-captain still tallied her second best scoring average of her career, finishing third on the team with a mark of 77.96. Her 230 and tie for 16th place helped propel the Tech squad to a second-place showing at the OVC Championship. On the year, she tallied three top 10 finishes on the year. She tied the fourth-lowest 54-hole score in program history, carding a 220 at The Fall Invitational, backed by a season-low round of 71. Everts helped the Golden Eagles completely shatter the program scoring mark with an 888 at The Fall Invitational and the single-round record with a 290 at the same event. In the classroom, she has been a member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll six times, including her final semester. Off the links, she has served in leadership roles in SAAC and student ministry and has been an active member of both SAAC and FCA for three years. In the community, she has served both as a College Life and Student Life leader at Life Church each week and has volunteered as an elementary age mentor at Northeast Elementary School for no less than an hour a week.
Candace Parson | Graduate | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. | Basketball
Candace returned to the women's basketball team late in the 2015-16 season as a graduate student. She played in nine games, starting seven for her final year as a Golden Eagle, averaging seven points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Candace started all 29 games for the Golden Eagles in the 2014-15 season; within those games, she played a team-high average of 31.4 minutes per game. She led the team in rebounding at 6.2 per game, while also averaging a career-best 10.9 points per game. She also led the team with 40 blocks on the season. Parson scored a career-high 25 points against MTSU (12/28/14), recorded a career-high four assists against Morgan State (12/21/14), swiped a career-best four steals against Tennessee State (1/21/15), and then tallied a career-best three blocks against TSU in the second meeting (2/12/15). She played a career-high 39 minutes against TSU (1/21/15). For her leadership on and off the court, she was given the John P. Hendrix Leadership Award and was also honored with the team Most Valuable Player award in the 2014-15 season. The Office of Multicultural Affairs honored Parson at the end of the 2015 school year, naming her the Minority Female Athlete of the Year. The Athletes of the Year award was given to "an individual who embodies what it means to be a Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle." This includes balancing the duties of being a student-athlete with rigorous coursework, while GPA also has a strong consideration, along with involvement on the campus. Parson found herself on eight TTU Athletic Director's Honor Rolls, while also earning a place on two OVC Commissioner's Honor Rolls. Parson was a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative from 2011-14.
Megan Williamson | Senior | Murfreesboro, Tenn. | Golf
A four-year member of the Golden Eagle women's golf team, Megan Williamson has proven to show an active presence all over the Tennessee Tech University campus during her academic and athletic careers. She served as team captain of the Golden Eagle squad for each of the past three seasons while showing plenty of success on the links, highlighted by setting the program's 54-hole scoring record as a junior in her hometown of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Williamson carded a 76-70-72=218 at the event, finishing in third place and earning Ohio Valley Conference Female Golfer of the Week accolades. She helped the Golden Eagles completely shatter the program scoring mark with an 888 at The Fall Invitational and the single-round record with a 290 at the same event. Williamson also took home one of her three career All-Tournament honors at the event and was a member of the OVC Sportsmanship Award winning squad for 2015. Off the greens and fairways, she has been a model student, making the Dean's List each semester since the fall of 2012. Williamson has been named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in all eight of her semesters at Tech and also took home a place on the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll twice, thanks to a stellar 3.85 GPA. She was awarded the OVC Academic Medal of Honor in 2013-14 and was the Golden Eagle's nomination for the OVC Scholar Athlete this past year. The 2015 President's Award winner for women's golf, she has been an active reporter for the school newspaper, the Oracle, since her arrival to campus. She has also served a tutor in sociology for WIN program. In the community, Williamson has spent countless hours volunteering at local elementary schools, ringing bells for the Salvation Army and assisting with the annual Fall Fun Fest.