The NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service and leadership.
Kuntz is a three-time NEWMAC All-Conference honoree in the pole vault, including her first-place finish at last month's conference championship. She was an All-American at both the 2011 Indoor and Outdoor NCAA championships and was named to the Capital One Academic All-America team as a junior.
Kuntz accomplished all of this despite having no experience as a pole vaulter prior to arriving at MIT. She grew up dreaming of being a collegiate gymnast, but the school stopped sponsoring the sport just before her freshman year, which led to Kuntz walking on the track & field team.
"With almost no experience, I was nearly cut from the team, but was granted a chance to stay," Kuntz recalled. "The journey I took to improve – extra practice session, training anywhere and everywhere, pouring my soul into the sport – led me to discover who I am. I'm not a gymnast, or a pole vaulter. I'm not a scholar. I am a fighter."
Kuntz has also received countless academic awards throughout her collegiate career while maintaining a perfect 5.0 GPA in mechanical engineering and physics. She was named the Elite 89 recipient at the 2012 NCAA Indoor championship, as the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average out of all the championship participants. She has also received the Rensselaer Medal, Louis N. Tumala award and served as campus ambassador for the Team Impact program, which pairs college teams with children facing life-threatening illnesses.
"Without my coaches' guidance, my teammates' encouragement, my professors' teaching, or my parents' unwavering cheering, I wouldn't have been able to overcome the challenges of athletics and academics, Kuntz said. "And overcoming those challenges has allowed me to help and inspire others to overcome their own. It's this opportunity to serve others that has been even more fulfilling than any individual success and motivates me to overcome each challenge I face."
Kuntz, along with all other conference nominees will be forwarded to the Woman of the Year selection committee. The selection committee will choose the top 10 honorees in each division. From among those 30 candidates, the selection committee will determine the top three in each division. Finally, the members of the Committee on Women's Athletics will vote from among the top nine finalists to determine the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year, which will be announced at the NCAA Woman of the Year awards dinner in Indianapolis, Ind. on October 20 2013.
Release courtesy of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference