June 27, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Recent University of Notre Dame women’s fencing graduate Lee Kiefer has been announced as one of a record number of 543 nominees for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Established in 1991 and now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
Kiefer set the standard both athletically and academically during her four years with the Irish. She became the first Notre Dame student-athlete to win four NCAA titles in the same event, and just the third collegiate fencer to accomplish the feat. She joins 18 other collegiate athletes who have won four national titles in the same event. The current No. 1-ranked foilist in the world, Kiefer helped guide the Irish to their ninth NCAA Championship in 2017, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Fencer of the Year for Foil, claimed a spot on the All-ACC Academic Team, and capped her career with a Byron V. Kanaley Award, which is given to senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as students and leaders. She graduated with a 3.67 grade point average with a science pre-professional degree and will attend medical school at the University of Kentucky.
Next, conferences will select up to two conference nominees each from the pool of school nominees. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees — 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine.
The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.
In 2014, women’s soccer alum Elizabeth Tucker became the first Notre Dame student-athlete to take home the honor.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master's degree from Georgetown University in 2013.