INDIANAPOLIS – The University of the District of Columbia's Marlena Wright was selected as one of two East Coast Conference 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award nominees as announced today by the NCAA. Softball student-athlete Tracey Balinskas of Molloy College was the other nominee selected from the ECC.
"The East Coast Conference is very proud to have Marlena Wright as one of our nominees for 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year," ECC Commissioner Bob Dranoff said. "It is clear that she has excelled athletically, academically and in service to the UDC community. She has also been active with the ECC as a SAAC representative and attending ECC leadership programs."
In early September, the Woman of the Year selection committee will name the Top 30 honorees, representing the top 10 women in each division. The selection committee will then choose and announce the nine finalists, with three from each division, at the end of September. Then, from the pool of nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will determine the 2016 Woman of the Year.
The Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year will be named at the annual banquet on October 16th in Indianapolis.
The NCAA Woman of the Year program has recognized graduating female student-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership since its inception in 1991.
This year, Wright earned the East Coast Conference's most prestigious award for student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through positive actions and behaviors that are consistent with the NCAA Division II attributes of learning, service, passion, sportsmanship, balance and resourcefulness. She also earned the highest honor presented at the UDC Athletics awards banquet this past May – the Relsyn W. Henley Memorial Award – recognizing outstanding character, leadership and service. Wright was named an Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar by Diverse Magazine as well.
Athletically, Wright was a two-time All-American as part of the 4x400M Relay team for the Firebirds in 2014. She was also the first female to win an ECC Championship event in all four seasons, doing so in the 500M run at the conference's Indoor Championships from 2013-2016.
Her resume off the track is even more extensive. In the classroom, she graduated with a 3.40 GPA as a Mass Media – Journalism major, and she also took on leadership roles with numerous groups across campus. She was a member of UDC Women of Worth, Photography, and Women in Film & Video clubs, as well as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In addition, she was the president and founder of the UDC Video Club, President of the UDC Literary Club, and the secretary for both UDC Active Minds and Students Overcoming All Risks (SOAR). Lastly, she was the creator and producer of the Athletic Department's video web series, The Real MVP, and bi-weekly short video series, Hammer Time.
Wright was also involved in community outreach. She helped orchestrate the cross country team's participation in the Light the Night Walk in support of leukemia and lymphoma in honor of the deceased mother of the team's head coach, Alton McKenzie.