California's Acker selected Pac-12 Woman of the Year

SAN FRANCISCO -- The University of CALIFORNIA’S Rachael Acker has been selected the Pac-12 Conference Woman of the Year for the 2015-16 academic year, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced. Acker becomes the Conference’s candidate for the NCAA Woman of the Year, presented annually to graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, community service and leadership.

Rachael Acker (Palo Alto, Calif.) is an accomplished student-athlete both in the pool and in the classroom along with volunteering in the community. A five-time All-American and 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier, Acker earned two medals at the 2013 World University Games held in Kazan, Russia for Team USA. She captured gold as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay and a silver as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay. 

Acker won a national championship as the lead off leg of the 800-yard freestyle relay at the 2014 NCAA Championships, also capturing third in the 400-yard freestyle relay that allowed the Golden Bears to take home the team title for the fourth time in program history that year. She also captured Pac-12 titles as a member of the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays in 2014, also winning a conference title individually in the 200-yard freestyle during the 2013 season. Acker helped the Golden Bears to an NCAA team title in 2014 and Pac-12 team titles in both in 2013 and 2014.

A French major with a 3.96 grade point average, Acker was named the 2016 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women’s swimming and diving, received the Neufeld Award for having the highest GPA among Cal’s graduating student-athletes and was one of five finalists for the University Medal, which is presented annually to the top-graduating senior at Cal. She was a two-time first-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection, a two-time CoSIDA first-team Academic All-American and a CSCAA Scholar All-American during her time as a Golden Bear. In addition to her participation as a lab assistant in the Heald Lab within the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, she received the Fulbright Scholarship for biological research and will travel to France to study at the University of Rennes.

Acker has spent countless hours serving as the the co-founder of the Golden Bear sock drive and volunteering at the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen all to benefit the city of Berkeley’s homeless community. Additionally, she was a crisis counselor providing free counseling through text messages to a suicide prevention line and was an undergraduate researcher studying mitosis and biological scaling using two species of frogs.

Acker is the 11th student-athlete to be named Pac-12 Woman of the Year. Previous winners were: Margo Geer, ARIZ (2015); Chiney Ogwumike, STAN (2014); Brigetta Barrett, ARIZ (2013); Hilary Bach, ASU (2012); Annie Chandler, ARIZ (2011); Justine Schluntz, ARIZ (2010); Lacey Nymeyer, ARIZ (2009); Arianna Lambie, STAN (2008); Whitney Myers, ARIZ (2007); Kate Richardson, UCLA (2006). Acker is the first Golden Bear to earn the honor. Four from the Conference have won the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year recognition.

The Pac-12 is allowed to submit a candidate who is an international student-athlete or a minority for NCAA Woman of the Year and has selected Ruth Hamblin (Houston, British Columbia) of OREGON STATE. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year in women’s basketball, she set the Conference record for career blocks and helped the Beavers win back-to-back Pac-12 regular season titles and reach the 2016 NCAA women’s final four for the first time in program history. Hamlin has a 3.85 GPA in mechanical engineering and served all four years on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).  

Eligible female student-athletes are nominated by their member school. Each conference office then reviews the nominations from its member schools and submits its conference nominee to the NCAA. The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee selects the Top 30 – 10 from each division and then three finalists from each division. The Committee on Women’s Athletics selects the winner from the Top 9. 

The top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 16 in Indianapolis. 

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