Eastern Kentucky University graduate Larissa Heslop has been named a nominee for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Woman of the Year Award.
Heslop was a standout player for the women’s soccer team for four years.
Heslop learned of her nomination for the award from a post on Twitter. She is proud to be a graduate of EKU and feels very honored to have this opportunity.
“It’s nice to know that I’ve got a school that leads me and supports me and they think that I am worthy enough for that award,” Heslop said.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award began in 1991 to acknowledge graduating female student-athletes who have strived and shown determination, service, sacrifice and leadership in not only athletics but academics as well, throughout their entire college career.
Heslop graduated as one of the most achieved players in EKU soccer history. As an outside defender, she appeared in 62 career games, helping take the Colonels to 36 victories and playing in two Ohio Valley Conference Championships.
She is the first college athlete in her family and has full support from her friends and family, pushing for her to get to the next level.
“I have both my friends and family supporting me through this. When you surround yourself with people who are successful in their own ways, it's easy for you to be successful,” Heslop said.
Heslop is from Greer, South Carolina and graduated in May with a 4.0 GPA and was a part of the Honors Program. Heslop presented her Honors Thesis, “The Difficulties of Reentry After Incarceration in Kentucky,” in the fall of 2019.
She obtained a degree in anthropology and a minor in international business. She studied abroad in four different countries- England in the winter of 2016, Israel and Egypt in the summer of 2019 and Brazil in the spring of 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heslop has volunteered with:
Hope Factory, reading books online to children in hospitals.
Meals on Wheels, delivering food to families in need during quarantine.
Served various communities through the Golden Keys Honor Society, the Society of Student Anthropologists, the Ronald McDonald House in Lexington and the Harvest Hope food pantry in Greenville, South Carolina.
She was voted to the 2019 Academic All-America Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America, becoming one of only two student-athletes from the OVC and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be named a Division-I Academic All-American for women’s soccer.
In the spring of 2019, Heslop was named the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year for women’s soccer by the publication Diverse: Issues in High Education.
Heslop was a research assistant at Duke’s Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center in the summer of 2018. She served on EKU’s Student Government Association Diversity Committee from 2018 to 2019. Heslop has also been very active in the Bratzke Center as she tutored and mentored fellow student-athletes.
When deciding the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, the conference has to go through a specific set of rules and regulations to decide:
Conference offices will select up to two nominees each from their pool of member school nominees.
The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will choose the Top 30 honorees — 10 from each division.
From the Top 30, the Woman of the Year selection committee will determine the top three honorees in each division and announce nine finalists.
The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then will choose the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year, who will be named this fall.