By Greg Johnson, UNW Athletics
The list just keeps getting smaller. After joining 455 nominations from institutions across the NCAAs three divisions, 2014 University of Northwestern graduate Krista (Stoltz) Bellefeuille (Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial) has been announced as a top nine honoree for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Bellefeuille will join her fellow eight remaining finalists at the NCAA Woman of the Year awards dinner in Indianapolis on October 19 where one national winner will be announced. Of the top nine honorees, three are from each NCAA division, meaning Bellefeuille is one of three Division III candidates left in the selection pool.
Bellefeuille's nomination was submitted by Northwestern in May of this year and was one of 455 nationwide. Following the institutional nomination deadline, Bellefeuille advanced as the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Woman of the Year nominee in June before being named as a Top 30 honoree on September 2. Before Bellefeuille, both Northwestern and the UMAC had never had one of its nominations named to the top 30.
As part of her Woman of the Year nomination, Bellefeuille stated: "A legacy is a lasting impact impressed upon others and within myself. With others, I learned the incredible benefit of extending unconditional love, authentically investing in lives, and building lifelong friendships that will support and encourage. Within myself, I believe the opportunities I was involved in as a scholar, athlete, and leader have shaped me into a woman of character."
Bellefeuille sought to establish a legacy of leadership and service off the court during her time in college. She spent several years mentoring elementary students and tutoring children in reading, while volunteering as a club volleyball coach and leading a children's small group at Eaglebrook Church. Bellefeuille also participated for three years in a leadership development program and served for two years as an admissions ambassador.
Matt Hill, vice president of student life and athletics at Northwestern, commented, "This honor affirms what we already know about Krista: she's dedicated, caring, hard-working, committed to excellence, a team player, and a joy to be around. I'm so grateful that the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee recognizes these qualities in this exceptional individual that we have been able to see demonstrated at Northwestern for the last four years."
"To be selected as one of the nine finalists is an incredible accomplishment in itself as the quality of nominations for this award is extremely impressive," said UMAC Commissioner Corey Borchardt. He continued, "Those that have spent any amount of time around Krista will not be surprised she is being recognized at this level as she is an inspiring woman who has been successful in all of her endeavors and pursuits including academics, athletics, and community outreach and service. Krista truly represents what that UMAC strives to cultivate and develop in providing a holistic educational experience for our student-athletes."
Before graduation, Bellefeuille, an elementary education major at UNW, made the Dean's list every semester and was recognized with high honors. Finishing her college career with a 3.96 cumulative grade point average, she was a Capital One Academic All-America First Team honoree and was awarded the UMAC Scholar-Athlete Leadership Award last spring. On the court, Bellefeuille was a four-year letter winner and three time conference champion. She was the UMAC Player of the Year and conference tournament Most Valuable Player in 2013 after being an American Volleyball Coaches Association Second Team All-American in 2012. Bellefeuille was a member of the first Northwestern team to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament, and her class was the first to earn four consecutive berths. Bellefeuille graduated as the NCAA Division III leader for active setters for career assists and sets, and was awarded the Northwestern Eagle Award, presented to the school's top female student-athlete for service, leadership, academic and athletic accomplishments.
Since graduating from Northwestern, Bellefeuille has started a new legacy, teaching preschool at New Life Academy in Woodbury, Minnesota, where she also coaches with the Eagles' volleyball program.
Read more in the NCAA feature Bellefeuille Woman of the Year and get the latest updates on Twitter.