Don't know if she'll get the NCAA Woman of The Year, but the tiara is well deserved.
I know what you're thinking... wait, Toro still works here? Yes, I am still V5 staff, but have been mired in the depths of my new job (details coming July 5th... ooh foreshadowing!). You're not going to believe this, but SBNation doesn't pay the four of us enough to do this full time yet. I'm as offended as you are.
But while I have a free second, wanted to give a Shameless Volleyball Shoutout to one of my favorite student-athlete's ever. Allie Boaz and I only crossed for one season when I was the SID for her team her freshman year, but one of the lasting images I have from that job was her laying on the floor of The Corral during a match against UConn. With her hands behind her propping up her torso, her extended legs didn't look right. Because one knee isn't supposed to bend that much differently than the other.
There was no shrill scream of pain. There was no wailing and crying. Just a right leg that was disformed sticking out. It was the type of injury you never really recover from wholly, so I watched Boaz play the balance of her career on basically one leg. I also saw her stumbling around South Tampa last weekend not because of alcohol (unlike me), but because she was still on crutches from yet another knee surgery she just had. One that she needed for a while, and one that might keep her from playing the game she loves again.
You couldn't ever question who was having the most fun playing with her contagious smile and the goofy thing she did by pulling her spandex up too high, but she was also the kid that wanted to win the most. She wasn't just a vocal leader, she lived it every day she played and practiced. And it looks like she was getting it done off the court as well, as she's been nominated for the NCAA Woman of The Year.
The award recognizes graduating female student athletes in four categories: academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership. I can't speak to academics or community service, but athletically I saw a kid that absolutely carried her team her senior year in every way she could. Every time they needed a big kill and she was front row, they set the right side. She wasn't beating people on athletic talent, but just brains and guts. Hitting .317 in the conference on 1.5 legs, and earning First Team All-Big East her senior year, shows a level of courage that transcends statistics. And that's true leadership.
Good luck Boaz. Win or lose the award, you're everything USF could ever ask of a Bull.