WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – From 517 nominations the NCAA will name three finalists from each division for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The NCAA's top award for a female athlete centers on academics, athletics, service, and leadership
Eph standout soccer midfielder Mai Mitsuyama (Natick, MA) along with Bowdoin field hockey player Kim Kahnweiler have been nominated for the award by the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Mitsuyama and Kahnweiler were selected from eight nominations within NESCAC.
Of the 517 nominees, 231 are from Division I, 117 from Division II and 169 are from Division III.
A team captain for the Ephs' 2015 NCAA Champions, Mitsuyama graduated with a dual degree in Japanese and psychology. Playing in 23 games her senior year Mitsuyama was the key link from the Eph backline to the front line connecting the defense to the offense. She scored two goals on the year, one a game-winner, and she converted both penalty kicks she attempted.
This past fall Mitsuyama was named an Academic All-NESCAC honoree for the third year, First Team All-NESCAC for the third consecutive year, First Team NSCAA All-New England for the third year in a row, a three-time First Team ECAC All-New England selection, and a repeat First Team NSCAA All-American as well as being named to the All-NCAA Tournament team, was named the D3soccer.com midfielder of the year, and was honored as the NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year in DIII.
She started 86 games in her Williams College career.
At Williams, Mitsuyama served as a Junior Advisor for the Class of 2018, promoting and cultivating an environment that helped first-year students adapt to daily college life while living in a residence hall. She also served as Class Marshall, and was selected to be the Class of 2016 Alumni Fund Head Class Agent.
Her responsibilities as a Class Marshall forced Mitsuyama to miss the Ephs' game last fall at Colby College due to a conflict with Williams' Fall Convocation.
Eph head coach Michelyne Pinard noted, "The ironic part of Mai being the most decorated Williams women's soccer player in the history of the program is that she is likely the most humble I've ever coached. She is confident in her ability, but she intrinsically believed from day one, that this experience was about her teammates and her peers on campus and that her job was to work hard and improve to help the team and the community in whatever capacity she could. She felt a deep commitment to her team and the Williams community that allowed her to pursue excellence while keeping things in perspective and enjoying the effort she put into all of her endeavors while she was at Williams."
Pinard also commented on the leadership qualities embodied by Mitsuyama: "As a leader of the women's soccer team she committed herself to creating a team that played beautiful soccer and to a team culture that was welcoming, open, and inclusive. Her ability to create community through her consistent, steady, loyal, and thoughtful presence both for the team and within her entry as a JA and in the community at large was spectacular. She will be missed on so many levels and my hope is that she finds her way back home to the purple valley at some point down the road as a professional."
Pinard concluded her praise of Mitsuyama by saying; "I'm so proud of all that Mai has accomplished and achieved while at Williams, but even more excited about what she has learned so she can go on and impact our world in a wonderfully positive way. It couldn't have happened to a better human being."