Provided by Texas Tech Athletics
INDIANAPOLIS - Former Lady Raider track and field student-athlete Ifeatu Okafor was officially named the NCAA Woman of the Year Sunday night at an awards banquet in downtown Indianapolis.
Okafor was selected from a field of nine finalists representing NCAA Division I, II and III for her achievements in athletics, academics, leadership and community service. In all, more than 450 student-athletes were originally nominated for the prestigious award which encompasses a female student-athlete's entire collegiate career.
"It's very special," Okafor said. "Texas Tech has just played such a huge role in my life. My experiences at Texas Tech have developed my character and transformed me into a better person. I'm truly grateful."
Sunday's ceremony marked the 23rd in the award's history, while Okafor is the first NCAA Woman of the Year from the Big 12 Conference. The top-30 selections, which were also recognized Sunday night, were identified from 140 conference nominees from across the NCAA.
"This evening was an incredible celebration of amazing female student-athletes," Senior Associate Athletics Director Dr. Judi Henry said. "The honorees exemplify everything good about intercollegiate athletics and our future leaders. We could not be more proud of Ifeatu Okafor as the recipient of the NCAA Woman of the Year award. She truly is a Fearless Champion."
Okafor completed her Texas Tech career this spring as a standout thrower on the Lady Raider track and field team. In 2011, she won the Big 12 outdoor shot put competition and earned first team All-American honors later that season. She currently holds five of the top-10 marks in school history in the event.
"Of all of the athletes I have coached, Ifeatu exemplifies what it means to be a true student-athlete and an All-American," Texas Tech head track and field coach Wes Kittley said. "Her commitment to academics, community service and leadership were remarkable."
Away from competition, she earned numerous academic recognitions including the prestigious Dr. Gerald Lage Award presented by the Big 12 Conference in 2012 - the highest academic recognition given by the Big 12. Meanwhile, she was a finalist for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award in 2013, a four-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and received All-Academic honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Okafor was consistently active in the Lubbock community throughout her decorated Texas Tech career. She was central in numerous service projects and charity organizations including the YWCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, South Plains Food Bank, Children's Covenant Hospital and many more.
Okafor served as the president of the Texas Tech Student Athlete-Advisory Committee during the 2012-13 academic year. She was involved in the committee throughout her collegiate career, serving as treasurer from 2010-12 and as Texas Tech's Big 12 representative.
She is currently pursuing her master's degree at UT-Southwestern with plans to become a physician's assistant after graduation. The Houston, Texas native graduated from Texas Tech in August 2012 with a degree in Exercise Sports Sciences and completed a second degree in May 2013 in Human Science with Magna Cum Laude honors on both occasions.
The Woman of the Year award has been presented annually by the NCAA since 1991.