Senior forward Breanna Stewart (North Syracuse, N.Y.) of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team was named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and presented with the prestigious Honda Cup as announced by Steve Morikawa, Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda. The award was presented live during the Collegiate Women Sports Awards show presented by Honda on CBS Sports Network, at the USC Founders Club at Galen Center in Los Angeles.
The “Top Three” finalists from the Class of 2016 included Stewart along with senior softball standout Sierra Romero of the University of Michigan and senior soccer sensation Raquel Rodriguez from Penn State University.
The “Top Three” were selected by a voting of nearly 1,000 NCAA member schools and the Honda Cup winner was chosen by the Board of Directors of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) program. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin was the 2015 Honda Cup winner and previous winners include basketball superstars Maya Moore (2011, 2012) and Candace Parker (2008), track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1985), soccer great Mia Hamm (1994) and volleyball star Misty May (1999).
Breanna is the 16th basketball player to win the honor and fifth Honda Cup winner from UConn, giving UConn the most Honda Cup winners overall in the 40 year history of the awards program. All four previous Honda Cup winners from UConn have come in the sport of basketball: Maya Moore (2010 & 2011), Jennifer Rizzotti (1996) and Rebecca Lobo (1995).
Stewart led her team to an unprecedented fourth straight national championship and is the first player in history to earn four Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors. She swept the 2016 national player of the year honors and is a two-time winner of the Wooden Award. She is also a three-time winner of the Naismith Trophy (Atlanta Tip-Off Club), Associated Press Player of the Year Award and the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award (USBWA) while also winning the Wade Trophy (WBCA) in each of the last two seasons.
Stewart, the 2016 Senior CLASS Award winner, finished her career as UConn's all-time leader with 414 career blocked shots and is second on the Huskies' all-time scoring list with 2,676 points. She was the top pick in the 2016 WNBA draft and is playing professionally for the Seattle Storm.
“On this special 40th year milestone for the CWSA we congratulate Breanna and welcome her into the elite company of those who have held the Honda Cup for the past 39 years - truly the ‘best of the best " in collegiate athletics!“ stated Chris Voelz, Executive Director of the CWSA.
In addition the to the announcement of the Honda Cup winner as the Collegiate Woman of the Year, the broadcast also featured the presentation of the Honda Inspiration award to Emily Fogle (Purdue, Swimming & Diving), the Honda Division II Athlete of the Year to Emily Oren (Hillsdale, Track & Field) and the Honda Division III Athlete of the Year Sydney Moss (Thomas More, Basketball).
The live broadcast also celebrated 40 years of the CWSA and 30 years of Honda’s corporate sponsorship and several former Honda Cup winners were on hand including Cheryl Miller (USC, Basketball), Lisa Fernandez (UCLA, Softball), Megan Hodge (Penn State, Volleyball), Courtney Kupets (Georgia, Gymnastics), Vicki Huber (Villanova, Track & Field) and Ann Meyers (UCLA, Basketball).
The CWSA, celebrating its 40th year, has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.0 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.