INDIANAPOLIS - Florida Southern senior women's swimmer Kelsey Gouge is one of a record 517 female student-athletes that have been nominated by their schools for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award as announced today by the NCAA national office.
Gouge, who completed her athletic career this past spring, was one of six nominees from the Sunshine State Conference, joining: Pauline Helgesson, a tennis player from Saint Leo; Rebecca Matthews, a member of Lynn's cross country and swimming/diving teams; Alexis Murphy, a basketball player from Nova Southeastern; Lavinia Nkomo of Barry's soccer team; and Berkley Whaley, a volleyball player from the University of Tampa.
Gouge was an All-American or honorable mention All-American in five events this season (two individual and three relay) to bring her career total to a school-record 22. As the Moccasins' top sprinter, she finished 10th at the NCAA Division II National Finals in the 50-freestyle and was seventh in the 100. She also participated in the 100-breaststroke at the Finals, and had an NCAA qualifying time in the 200-freestyle but did not participate in that event at the finals site. In the relay events, Gouge helped the Moccasins achieve All-American status in the 400-freestyle and 800-freestyle, and an honorable mention All-American award in the 200-freestyle as their leadoff swimmer for all three of those relays.
Over the course of the 2015-16 season, Gouge led Florida Southern with 10 individual wins and was tied for the team lead with 10 relay wins. She was the Sunshine State Conference champion in the 100-freestyle for the third time in her career, and swam the leadoff leg for all three of the Mocs' SSC champion relay teams. She was an All-Sunshine State Conference swimmer for the fourth year in a row, and a member of the First Team for the third time.
Gouge was earlier selected as a First-Team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America. She was also the 2016 Pat McFadden Award winner, which is given annually to Florida Southern's top male and female scholar-athletes. The award is based on a combination of success in the class room and athletic competition, and is the highest academic honor a Florida Southern student-athlete can receive. She came into the spring semester carrying a 3.89 GPA while majoring in sports management, which also helped her earn the team's Florida Southern Athletic Director's Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year honor for the second year in a row.
With the Moccasins, she served as the women's swim team captain the last two seasons, and was the team's representative on the FSC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Outside the arena of athletic competition, Gouge has volunteered at Highland Park Church and Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
This year, NCAA college and universities nominated a record 517 female student-athletes for the Woman of the Year award, which honors graduating female student-athletes from all three NCAA divisions who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service and leadership.
Of the nominated student-athletes, 231 competed in Division I, 117 competed in Division II and 169 competed in Division III athletics.
The Sunshine State Conference's nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year honor will be announced on June 21. The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee then selects the Top 30 – 10 from each division and then three finalists from each division. The Committee on Women's Athletics selects the winner from the top nine.
All 30 Woman of the Year honorees will be recognized, and the 2016 Woman of the Year announced, at an awards dinner this fall.
To be eligible for the honor, the female student-athlete must have earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and competed during the 2015-16 academic year. As well, each individual must have completed their eligibility in her primary sport by the end of the 2015 spring season and must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 grading scale.