The Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program
Now in its 39th year, The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program annually recognizes the accomplishments of female athletes in NCAA-member colleges with a variety of prestigious awards. These include:
- Honda Sports Award: The Honda Sports Award acknowledges athletic achievement as well as scholastics and community involvement, and is given to female athletes in 12 different NCAA-sanctioned sports throughout the year. In the fall, athletes are honored for their achievement in sports including soccer, volleyball, cross country, field hockey; in winter, gymnastics, basketball, swimming & diving; and in spring, lacrosse, softball, golf, tennis and track & field. Each Honda Sports Award winner is recognized as the top collegiate female athlete in her sport, and the award is considered by many as one of the highest honors a female college athlete can receive in the nation.
- Top Three: The Top Three finalists for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year are chosen from among the 12 Honda Sports Award winners. These three finalists for the program’s top honor exemplify the very best attributes of all Honda Sports Award winners, including excellence and leadership in their sport, as well as outstanding academic achievement and community involvement.
- Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year: The CWSA’s highest honor, the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year is chosen by the CWSA Board of Directors from the Top Three and is presented with the Honda Cup. This cup has been bestowed in the past on such talented and accomplished athletes as Mia Hamm, Cheryl Miller, Tara Kirk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Misty May and Candace Parker.
- Division II and Division III Athletes of the Year: Division II and Division III Athlete of the Year awards are given to the nation’s top collegiate female athletes in their respective Divisions, chosen from 11 different sports, with each having one nominee derived from coaches’ panels, All-America committees or finish at the respective national championship. Sports include: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.
- The Honda Inspiration Award is given to a female athlete who has overcome hardship and was able to return to play at the collegiate level. A call for nominations to all SWAs, Sports Information Directors and Athletic Directors of all NCAA-sanctioned schools provides the candidates for this award. A special committee of the CWSA Board reads all the submitted materials for these candidates and narrows down the field to the most worthy candidates. Then the entire Board of Directors chooses the Inspiration Award winner.
- Irv Grossman Award of Merit: Throughout the years, The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program has periodically chosen to honor both individuals and groups with its Award of Merit. This is not a yearly award, but an award that the CWSA chooses to present on a case-by-case basis. The award recognizes unique achievement as it contributes to public awareness and appreciation of women’s collegiate athletics and elevates the status of women’s collegiate sports on a national level. In 2007 the Award of Merit was renamed the Irv Grossman Award of Merit. Irv was a highly respected journalist, sports marketer and media consultant and one of the founders of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program. Throughout his career, he spearheaded many innovative campaigns and events in both collegiate and professional sports, particularly in the field of women’s athletics. Irv passed away in May 2006.
Selection Process for Honda Sports Awards and Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year
Nominations: Nominations for the 12 Division I individual Honda Sports Awards come from coaches’ panels, All-America committees or finish at the respective national championships. Four nominees for each sport are received for the 12 Division I Honda Sports Awards. The nominee selection process for individual Honda Sports Awards in each of the 12 sports is as follows:
• Basketball: Selected by the NCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
• Cross Country: Selected by finish at NCAA Cross County Championships.
• Field Hockey: Selected by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
• Golf: Selected by finish at the NCAA Championships and rankings.
• Gymnastics: Selected by the United States Elite Coaches Association.
• Lacrosse: Selected by the United States Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association (USILWCA).
• Soccer: Selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
• Softball: Selected by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
• Swimming & Diving: Selected by a panel of swimming & diving experts.
• Tennis: Selected by NCAA Championship and ITA rankings.
• Track & Field: Selected by a panel of track and field experts.
• Volleyball: Selected by the AVCA All-American Selection Committee.
Nominees for the 12 Division I Honda Sports Awards are submitted by ballot for voting by Senior Women Administrators at approximately 1,000 NCAA member institutions. According to the criteria for voting, the award winner is to reflect “not only athletic achievement but also the ideals of team contribution, scholastic endeavor, school and community involvement and those personal characteristics as are stated in the philosophy of the NCAA.”
In June, the 12 winners are placed on the final ballot of the year and by vote of the NCAA schools the Top Three finalists are determined. The CWSA Board of Directors then reviews the Top Three and by confidential vote the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year is designated, to be announced at the annual June awards ceremony.
For selection of the Division II and III Honda Sports Award winners, ballots are sent to the Division II and Division III Senior Women Administrators in June with 11 nominees and their bios.
Annual Awards Ceremony
The CWSA presents the annual Honda Cup award to the nation’s Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year live on national television at the annual awards ceremony, held in Los Angeles, Calif. Honda Sports Award finalists are joined by the Div. II and Div. III athletes of the year, and the Most Inspirational Award Winner.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., sponsor of the program, celebrates each nominee by donating $5,000 to each Honda Sports Award recipient school and $1,000 to each nominee school.
The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program is governed by a Board of Directors and Executive Committee. The Board of Directors includes individuals from NCAA institutions, members of the media, organizational representatives and a former Cup recipient.