HAVERFORD, Pa. – Julia Blake '19 has been announced as a nominee for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year. Blake, a recent graduate and team captain of the softball team, is one of a record-breaking 585 female student-athletes who were nominated across the country. Of those record number of entrants, 192 of those student-athletes come from Division III schools.
Now in its 29th year, the Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service, and leadership.
Hitting the ground running from the start of her collegiate career, Blake took over the second base position on a full-time basis during her first-year at Haverford. During her rookie campaign, Blake and the Fords won the program's third Centennial Conference Championship and advanced all the way to the 2016 NCAA Super Regionals where they came with a single game of the Women's College World Series.
During that historic playoff run, the Fords became the first team in conference history to win four straight elimination games en route to the conference crown. Haverford followed that up by capturing the program's first-ever regional championship as they won the "Regional of Death" which featured the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in the entire country at the time in Virginia Wesleyan and Salisbury. The Fords then battled Messiah, a team which went on to finish as the national runner-up that season, all the way to a decisive third game during the Super Regional round.
Blake was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team after that championship season which foreshadowed the success the softball team would have in the years to come. During Blake's four-year career, she helped the Fords advance to two more Centennial Conference Championship series in 2018 and 2019, hosting the conference tournament for just the second time in school history this past spring. Blake was right in the middle of the Fords' success as she became just the third player in program history to be recognized as a four-time All-Centennial Conference selection, earning first-team honors during the 2017 and 2019 seasons. Blake finished her career as the program's all-time leader in on-base percentage (.458) and total bases (255). She finished her career ranked in the top 10 in school history in 22 different categories.
However, her impact on campus was far from limited to her exploits on the softball field. Blake was also honored as Haverford's Stephen G. Cary '37 Award recipient which is presented to a senior who has made the greatest overall impact on the Haverford athletic program through a combination of athletic participation and achievement, leadership, sportsmanship, and off-field athletic department involvement.
In addition to excelling on the field, Blake was a member of Haverford's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and served as the Students' Council Senior Representative. She was also instrumental in organizing Plenary during her time as Co-President of Haverford's Student Council. Additionally interning at SidelineSwap for three years, Blake developed and ran the #GearForAYear Scholarship program that rewarded deserving athletes with over $2,000 worth of equipment from the leading online marketplace. The Haverford softball team, in conjunction with SAAC, also volunteered annually at Villanova's Special Olympics Day during the fall.
Blake graduated from Haverford with a degree in political science. Achieving great things in the classroom, she was recognized on the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll during each of her three eligible seasons for that honor.
The NCAA encourages member schools to honor their top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award. Then, conferences assess each nominee's eligibility and select up to two conference nominees. All conference nominees are forwarded to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three nominees from each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses from among those nine to determine the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year.