Evangeline Crist of Liberty women's tennis and Sheana Vega of the Lady Flames' basketball team have both been nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. They are two of 251 Division I student-athletes nominated for the prestigious accolade.
Hailing from Lilburn, Ga., Crist graduated this past May with a bachelor's degree in business administration marketing and advertising and a minor in graphic design. A two-time Big South All-Academic team honoree and ITA Scholar-Athlete recipient, Crist maintained a 3.85 GPA in her undergraduate studies. This summer, she has begun coursework towards a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
On the tennis court, Crist closed out her career with a 25-8 mark in singles during the 2017-18 campaign, winning her last 15 matches while also earning Big South Second Team All-Conference Singles honors. In doubles, she finished with a 20-8 mark and helped the Lady Flames win 19 matches in the spring, the second most in a single season in program history.
During her senior year, she also became the school's all-time leader in both doubles (94) and singles (92) wins. She set the new doubles record with her 91st career triumph at Longwood on April 3 with her partner, junior Anna Dollar. On April 8, she became the program's winningest singles player, picking up the 88th victory of her career in a match versus Hampton. Crist wrapped up her career as a four-time (three-time singles, doubles once) Big South All-Conference player and two-time VaSID All-State honoree (both in doubles) during her time with the Lady Flames.
Crist spent countless hours serving the Lynchburg community and surrounding area, working with the following programs: Dollar Makes a Difference, Lynchburg Daily Bread, Spooktacular, Reading Buddies, Easter Baskets for the Elderly, Trick or Treat So Others Can Eat, Thank-A-Thon, Hop on Pop Reading Day, Career Day, Dr. Seuss Read Across America, #FlamesREAD Program, Chocolate Bingo at Runk and Pratt, Volleyball-A-Thon and Community Clean-Up.
Crist served as the Liberty women's tennis team captain for the 2017-18 season and also was an active member of the Liberty Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Crist is currently working as an intern at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville. She is serving in their corporate office as an events coordinator under the leadership team. Crist will return to Liberty in the fall to continue working on her master's degree while also serving as the Liberty women's tennis team manager for the 2018-19 season.
A native of Jackson, N.J., Vega earned two degrees during her four years at Liberty. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in May 2017 and completed a master's degree in business administration in May 2018. Vega maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her master's studies.
On the court, Vega made 85 career appearances for the Lady Flames, including six times in the starting lineup. She helped Liberty cut down the nets as Big South Conference champions as both a freshman (2015) and senior (2018), and the Lady Flames went 83-47 during her career.
Vega racked up more than 250 hours of community service while at Liberty. She was an active member of the Liberty Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), having a hand in campaigns that raised over $15,000 for the local community. During the summer of 2017, Vega traveled to Kenya with Athletes in Action, serving families in poverty and conducting basketball clinics.
A team captain in 2016-17, Vega was selected to attend a pair of national leadership events in recent months. She graduated from the WBCA's "So You Want To Be A Coach" program in March. Vega then traveled to Kansas City for the 2018 NCAA/Women Leaders in College Sports Women's Leadership Symposium in April. Vega is currently working as director of recruiting for the Pitt women's basketball team.
The NCAA Woman of the Year award began in 1991 and now enters its 28th year honoring graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in four pillars – academics, athletics, service and leadership.
The award represents a record 581 nominees across all three NCAA divisions, with 251 from Division I, 131 from Division II and 199 from Division III. The nominees competed in 20 different women's sports, and 109 were multisport athletes during their time in college.
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 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine. The top 30 honorees will be recognized, and the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony, Oct. 28 in Indianapolis.
In 2017, Serena Barr, a former Liberty field hockey player who competed for the Lady Flames from 2013-16 and graduated in 2017, was selected as a Top 9 Honoree for the NCAA Woman of the Year. Barr was one of three Division I athletes selected as a finalist and was the first Liberty student-athlete in school history to reach both the top 30 and top nine.
Barr was recognized at the 27th annual celebration of the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year in Indianapolis on Oct. 22, 2017, and was joined by her family as well as former Liberty Field Hockey Head Coach Jodi Murphy.