Indianapolis, IN --- Recent WPI women's basketball and softball student-athlete Ama Biney '18 was recognized as one of the top graduating student-athletes across all three NCAA divisions in 2017-18 with her selection for the NCAA Today's Top 10 Award, which was presented by head coaches Cherise Galasso and Whitney Goldstein Wednesday night at the national convention in Orlando, FL.
The local product also joins the ranks of Worcester's all-time greats to have received the award as Ron Perry Jr and Gordie Lockbaum represented Holy Cross in the 1980s.
This year's star-studded list also includes Andrea Bryson of St. Cloud State (MN) women's swimming and diving, Jevon Carter of West Virginia men's basketball, Lucas Kaliszak of Alabama men's swimming & diving, Alison Lindsay of Washington (MO) women's cross country and track & field, Alex McMurtry of Florida of women's gymnastics, Keturah Orji of Georgia women's track & field, Ben Reeves of Yale men's lacrosse, Kyle Snyder of Ohio State wrestling and Julia Wilson of Kenyon (OH) of women's swimming & diving.
Orji was feted as the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year while Wilson made it to the top 30. Biney was the Engineers first NEWMAC Woman of the Year selection in nearly a decade, and Bryson, McMurty and Lindsay were put forth by their institutions.
In addition to the Today's Top 10, the Silver Anniversary Awards, Inspiration Awards and Theodore Roosevelt Award were also handed out. Select Silver Anniversary Award honorees featured Mia Hamm (UNC), Lisa Leslie (USC) and Jason Varitek (Georgia Tech) while Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) and Shaquem Griffin (UCF) were honored with the Inspiration Award. Retired Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. was the Theodore Roosevelt Award winner.
In softball, the team co-captain was the 2018 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year and a 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association first-team All-American. In basketball, Biney was the NEWMAC's 2018 Co-Athlete of the Year. Biney was also named the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2017 and 2018. In 2016, she helped the Engineers to NEWMAC tournament titles in both basketball and softball. Biney also led WPI softball to a pair of NCAA Division III Softball Championship regional titles in 2015 and 2016 and aided WPI women's basketball to a Division III women's basketball tournament appearance in 2016.
Biney also excelled in the classroom. She earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors for softball in 2016 and 2018 and NEWMAC Academic All-Conference honors throughout her career at WPI. The management engineering major's IQP involved developing QuizASSIST, a phone application that allows students to access content from their courses to study, learn, and challenge others and MQP consisted of consulting with firms in the Greater Boston Area to collect market data on how CEOs and CFOs value projects.
The Worcester native led through her involvement on campus and engagement within the community. For four years, she was a volunteer mentor with Big Brother Big Sisters of America. Additionally, she volunteered monthly with Girls Inc., belonged to several student organizations and served as a WPI camp counselor. In both 2017 and 2018, WPI recognized Biney's leadership with the Crimson and Gray Award, given to students who demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and make significant contributions to improve the quality of student life at the university.
Previous softball recipients include Cat Osterman (Texas), Stacey Nuveman (UCLA), Lisa Fernandez (UCLA), Raven Chavanne (Tennessee), and Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech). Distinguished women's basketball honorees feature Cheryl Miller (USC), Rebecca Lobo (UCONN), Kara Lawson (Tennessee), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware) and Lauren Battista (Bentley). Other notables include David Wottle (Bowling Green track & field), Bruce Baumgartner (Indiana State wrestling), John Elway (Stanford football), Steve Young (BYU football), Doug Flutie (Boston College football), David Robinson (Navy basketball), Jenny Thompson (Stanford swimming & diving), Peyton Manning (Tennessee football), Drew Brees (Purdue football), Christine Sinclair (Portland soccer), Heather O'Reilly (UNC soccer), and Colleen Quigley (Florida State cross country and track & field).
The NCAA Honors Committee, which selects the honorees, is composed of representatives from member schools and conferences, as well as nationally distinguished former college athletes. Before 2013, the award recognized eight student-athletes and was known as Today's Top VIII. The NCAA Honors Committee expanded the award to include 10 honorees to recognize the growing number of college athletes, sports and championship opportunities.
What They're Saying -
"When Ama arrived on our campus, we knew she was special as it is very hard to be a two sport student-athlete at WPI'" said Director of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics Dana L. Harmon. "Little did we know that she would lead two programs to conference championships, NCAA berths, receive numerous individual honors, become an all-time great in both sports and all the while being outstanding academically too. More importantly, she is an all-time great person who people just gravitate to. She represents all that is good in college athletics and we feel very proud that she is part of our WPI Athletics family."
"It's hard to capture into words what Ama Biney has meant to WPI Women's Basketball and really to the entire WPI community," said head coach Cherise Galasso. "A transformative figure who left as one of the greatest athletes in school history, Ama was a catalyst for such incredible team success while elevating the profile of WPI Athletics as a whole. I have been fortunate to work with many gifted and successful student-athletes over the years and can say without hesitation Ama is the most unique and talented student-athlete I have ever been associated with. One of the fiercest competitors to ever put on the jersey(s) she did it with class, integrity and was the epitome of a role model on and off the court. Her commitment to academic excellence was unparalleled and her selfless nature touched everyone she came in contact with, but beyond all the accolades and school records, what set Ama apart was that is she is one of the most genuine human beings you will ever meet. I am without a doubt a better person and coach for knowing Ama Biney."
"Ama was not only a special student-athlete on the field and court, but a special person with high character and comes from a great family," remarked head coach Whitney Goldstein. "When you gut check why you coach, someone like Ama instantly comes to mind because she not only holds herself to a competitive standard on the field, but more importantly off the field and in the classroom. She created an energy that is contagious for her teammates and has helped to shape and propel our softball program on a national scale."