As Big South Woman of the Year, Ashley Rininger is the conference's candidate for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, to be announced in October.
The Big South Conference announced today that Liberty women's basketball player Ashley Rininger has been named the Big South Conference's Woman of the Year for 2015-16, as sponsored by Musco Sports Lighting.
The Big South's Woman of the Year Selection Committee voted Rininger the winner among the seven candidates nominated for the award. The committee used criteria of service and leadership (including community services, campus activities and leadership positions), academic achievement, athletics excellence and a personal statement from each candidate. As the Big South's Woman of the Year, Rininger is nominated as the conference's candidate for the national NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Rininger is Liberty's first Big South Woman of the Year since 2013 and the Lady Flames' fifth honoree overall. The Canton, Ohio native joins Arlene Zelinskas (women's track & field, 2006-07), Allyson Fasnacht (women's basketball, 2007-08), Karyl Bacon (volleyball, 2010-11) and Karen Blocker (women's soccer, 2012-13) as Liberty's Big South Woman of the Year award winners.
Rininger had a major impact during her time on the hardwood for the Lady Flames, leading the team to two Big South titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. She earned numerous awards, including the 2015 Big South Championship MVP trophy and a pair of first team All-Big South selections (2014 and 2015).
Rininger finished her career ranked among the top seven players in program history in seven different categories, including rebounds (fourth, 952), offensive rebounds (fourth, 377), blocked shots (fourth, 156), double-doubles (fourth, 36), field goal percentage (fourth, 52.3), defensive rebounds (fifth, 575) and points (seventh, 1,380).
Rininger, who was named the Big South's 2015-16 Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year earlier this week, was named the recipient of Liberty University's 2016 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award. The award honors the top graduating senior student-athlete at Liberty University who has maintained an exemplary testimony on the playing field, in the classroom and among the student body.
Off the court, Rininger became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor's degree. Remarkably, she is on track to complete her third degree, a master's degree in criminal justice, this summer. Previously, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2014 and added a master's degree in human services counseling in 2015. Rininger, an aspiring FBI agent, has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her five years on campus.
Rininger has been recognized for her academic excellence, becoming just the fourth Liberty student-athlete and the first women's basketball player ever to earn back-to-back first team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors (2015 and 2016). Rininger also became the Big South's first-ever three-time Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's basketball (2014, 2015 and 2016).
While she was not practicing or studying, Rininger found time for additional activities around campus and in the community. She worked for Liberty's grounds department for three years, clocking up to 40 hours per week over the summer and 20-30 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Rininger was a two-year member of Liberty's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), serving as the group's vice president. She also worked as secretary for the Big South Conference SAAC.
Rininger was involved with various activities in local elementary and middle schools, summer basketball camps and clinics, Liberty's Reading Buddies program, Operation Christmas Child and volunteering at a nursing home, among other community service activities.
Also nominated for the Big South's NCAA Woman of the Year award were Campbell women's lacrosse player Rebecca Sheinfeld, Coastal Carolina softball player Morgan Noad, High Point women's track & field athlete Christine Rickert, Radford women's basketball player Aisha Foy, UNC Asheville women's basketball player Paige Love and Winthrop women's lacrosse player Shannon Gallagher.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee will determine the top 10 honorees in each division by considering specific guidelines based on the four pillars of the award: academics, athletics, service and leadership. From among those 30 candidates, the selection committee will determine the top three in each division. Finally, the members of the Committee on Women's Athletics will vote from among the top nine finalists to determine the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year.
Rininger is among the 141 conference honorees and 517 overall nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year, which is now in its 26th year. All school and conference honorees receive an NCAA certificate and will be recognized on www.ncaa.org. The top 10 honorees from Divisions I, II and III, including the nine overall finalists, will be honored, and the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year winner announced at a dinner Oct. 16 in Indianapolis, Ind.
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