Three Pac-12 student-athletes secure 2021 Honda Sports Award honors
SAN FRANCISCO — Three Pac-12 student-athletes were named Honda Sports Award winners during the 2020-21 campaign and UCLA's Rachel Garcia was selected as the back-to-back winner of the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Award (Honda Cup). The Honda Sports Award acknowledges athletic achievement as well as scholastics and community involvement, and is given to female athletes in 12 different NCAA-sanctioned sports throughout the year. Each Honda Sports Award winner is recognized as the top collegiate female athlete in their sport, and the award is considered by many as one of the highest honors a female college athlete can receive.
The Honda Sports Award is presented annually by the Collegiate Women Sports Award program, and the winners are chosen via a vote of administrators from more than 1,000 NCAA member schools. The 12 winners are placed on a final ballot and by vote of the NCAA schools, three finalists are determined. To determine the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, the CWSA Board of Directors reviews the top three finalists and votes confidentially.
Since the program began in 1976-77, student-athletes from Pac-12 institutions have won 135 Honda Sports Award honors and a record 15 Honda Cups, including each of the past four and five of the past six. The three 2021 Pac-12 Honda Sports Award winners are:
Softball: Rachel Garcia, UCLA (Palmdale, Calif.)
*2021 Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year*
A three-time Honda Sports Award winner, UCLA pitcher/infielder Rachel Garcia was also chosen as the 2021 Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, her second such honor after also earning the award in 2019. A finalist for 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Garcia led the Bruins to their fourth Conference title since 2006 and Pac-12 record 11th all-time. Offensively this spring, Garcia ranked in the top five in the Conference in both on-base and slugging percentage and led the Pac-12 with seven home runs in league play. In the circle, she led the Pac-12 in earned run average (ERA) and finished the regular season with a spotless 14-0 record. The three-time Pac-12 Player of the Year helped UCLA advance to its record 30th Women’s College World Series in 2021. A national champion in 2019, Garcia will leave Westwood with a career 1.43 ERA and 996 strikeouts in the circle, along with a .337/.430/.594 slash line at the plate.
Track & Field: Anna Cockrell, USC (Charlotte, N.C.)
The 2021 Pac-12 Women’s Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Anna Cockrell’s senior season included Conference titles in the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles, leading the Women of Troy to their third consecutive Pac-12 championship. She also became just the second female athlete to win both events at the NCAA Championships in the same year, as the Trojans captured their second national title in the last three seasons. Her 400m hurdles championship was her second in a row. She qualified for the finals at the United States Olympic Team Trials in both hurdles events, capping off this spring with an Olympic-qualifying time of 53.70 seconds in the 400m hurdles, a week after her NCAA title. A four-time team captain at USC, Cockrell was the 2021 female Tom Hansen medal recipient for the Trojans, and will leave Los Angeles as the school's 400m hurdles record holder, while ranking in the top 10 in the 100m hurdles along with the 60m hurdles and 200m indoor events. Cockrell’s selection as Honda Sports Award winner is the Pac-12’s 14th, leading all conferences for the sport of track & field.
Women’s Golf: Rachel Heck, Stanford (Memphis, Tenn.)
In her first season on The Farm, Rachel Heck became the first NCAA individual champion in Stanford women’s golf history. Out of the nine events in which she participated, Heck won six, setting a new NCAA record with a 69.72 scoring average. In April, Heck won the 2021 Pac-12 individual title, becoming the second Cardinal (Mhairi McKay, 1997) to capture the Conference crown. In the coming weeks, she would become just the third woman to sweep the postseason, finishing atop the individual leaderboard at the Pac-12 Championships, NCAA Stanford Regional and NCAA Championships. An All-Pac-12 First Team selection, Heck was named both the 2021 Pac-12 Women's Golfer of the Year and Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year. The first student-athlete from the program to earn Honda Sports Award honors for golf, Heck is also Stanford’s first ANNIKA Award and Ping WGCA Player of the Year Award winner, and the program’s second WGCA Freshman of the Year.