Recent Eastern Kentucky University graduate Larissa Heslop has been named a conference-level nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, meaning she is one of only two student-athletes from the Ohio Valley Conference to advance in the selection process.
From a pool that originally featured 605 nominees, Heslop is now one of only 59 Division-I women from around the country up for the prestigious award.
Rooted in Title IX, the NCAA Woman of the Year Award was established in 1991 to recognize graduating female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
The Woman of the Year Selection Committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will now choose the Top 30 honorees -- 10 from each division -- from the conference-level nominees. The Top 30 honorees will be announced in September. From there, the selection committee will narrow the pool to three finalists from each division. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2020 Woman of the Year from the nine finalists.
The Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year will be named this fall.
Heslop graduated as one of the winningest players in EKU soccer history. The outside defender appeared in 62 career games, helping the Colonels to 36 victories and 29 shutouts. She played in two Ohio Valley Conference Championship games (2016 and 2017).
The native of Greer, S.C., graduated in May with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in anthropology -- as well as a minor in international business.
She was voted to the 2019 Academic All-America Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA), becoming one of only two student-athletes from the OVC and the state of Kentucky to be named a Division-I academic All-American for women's soccer.
Heslop was a member of EKU's renowned Honors Program, and she presented her Honors Thesis -- "The Difficulties of Reentry After Incarceration in Kentucky" -- in the fall of 2019. She also studied abroad in four different countries during her time at EKU -- England in the winter of 2016, Israel and Egypt in the summer of 2019 and Brazil in the spring of 2020.
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 has been active in the community, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, she volunteered with Hope Factory, reading books online to children in hospitals, and with Warm Blessings, Inc., delivering food to families in need during quarantine.
She also 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, S.C.
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 also tutored and mentored her fellow student-athletes through the Bratzke Center.