NSU alumna nominated for prestigious sports award

Members of the NSU women’s golf team are no strangers to national recognition and continue to make headlines. NSU alumna Maria Garcia-Austt was nominated at the conference level for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

Garcia-Austt is one of two golfers from the Sunshine State Conference to receive this recognition. The other is Natalia Ramos from Florida Tech. Garcia-Austt and Ramos are among 117 nominees.

A selection committee will select 10 nominees from the NCAA’s Divisions I, II and III later this month. The 30 nominees will then be narrowed down to nine — three from each division. The winner of the award will be announced during the 2010 Woman of the Year dinner on Oct. 17.

Garcia-Austt said that the award is a great way of recognizing student-athletes.

“I think this award is important because you are recognized not only for your athletic performance, but also for your academic one,” she said.

Garcia-Austt is a 2010 NSU graduate with a degree in business administration and enjoyed an extremely successful career as a Shark. She was named First-Team All-SSC for four consecutive years and received NGCA/Duramed First-Team All-America honors.

She is humbled to be a candidate for selection and said this award would mean as much as the many others she won during her time as a Shark.

“Winning this award would be the best closing for my college experience,” said Garcia-Austt. “I know it is extremely difficult to win this award because there are a lot of great female student-athletes who also deserve it, but it would be really nice to get it.”

Garcia-Austt is the first female student-athlete from NSU to make it to this stage of the selection process.

Ann Walker, associate athletic director/senior woman administrator, said this is a great achievement for Garcia-Austt, whether she wins the award or not.

“To even make it this far and be a representative out of the Sunshine State Conference is quite a feat,” said Walker. “This would be the most prestigious award that an athlete could get.”

In addition to her first class performances on the course, Garcia-Austt has left a lasting impression on one of her team-mates off the course.

“Maria was awesome as a teammate. She was the one that always made everyone laugh,” said teammate Abbey Gittings. “I really think she was such an important cog in how well the team did. She really has an amazing character.”

Gittings believes Garcia-Austt’s infectious personality and will to win make her the ideal candidate for NCAA Woman of the Year.

“When we go to tournaments, Maria will speak to everyone and anyone, and you never see her without a huge smile on her face. She really is someone who I look up to as a great person,” said Gittings.

Since graduating, Garcia-Austt is enjoying life after NSU and looks forward to the next step in her life.

“I am living with my family again. I am still practicing and playing golf. I am working out a lot and I am hanging out with my friends; so I can say I am really enjoying life right now,” said Garcia-Austt.

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