SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – For the first time ever, an Augustana University athlete has won the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Beating out more than 500 nominees nationwide, softball player Kendall Cornick is also only the second person from a Division II school to win the award.

Cornick, who is from Mason City, Iowa, didn’t always plan on playing collegiate softball, but once she got to Augustana, she knew it was meant to be.

“I cannot imagine that I even thought about not playing softball in college because it has been such a huge part of my life,” she said. “It’s brought me amazing people, my teammates are literally the best people in the world and we were just able to do softball, but also do life together.”

A part of her life that also brought her the title of 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year. This was the moment she and her team found out.

“It actually felt just like it did when we won the 2019 national championship,” Gretta Melsted, head softball coach at Augustana, said. “It was, it’s hard to really put into words because you’re so in awe because this is one of the absolute biggest honors that the NCAA gives out and she is so deserving of this award.”

“Blessed to receive this honor, grateful for all those people in that room because they really have kind of made me what I am today,” Cornick said. “Like, without them I would not be this person and I would not be capable of winning an award of this magnitude.”

Cornick wants to remind other young, female athletes that this is a goal they can strive for as well.

Women can do whatever they set their mind to. And just to kind of look up to the people that around them and kind of seek out those mentors and those strong females because they are there and you can do whatever you want.

Kendall Cornick, 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year

“This award is perfect for her, the NCAA got it right, but I think she’s going to make an impact that’s way bigger than this,” Abbie Lund, Cornick’s friend and teammate, said.

Going beyond softball and awards is exactly what Cornick says she learned at Augustana. She takes those lessons with her as she studies to get her medical degree in Iowa.

“Obviously I was on a team of so many different people, so many different opinions, beliefs, experiences, just, everybody brought something different to the table in that’s exactly how the field of medicine is,” Cornick said. “I will be a part of such a large team wherever I end up.”

Cornick will be working towards her medical degree in Iowa for the next four years. Photo courtesy of Kendall Cornick.

Taking softball with her into the future, even if she’s not standing on the diamond.

Click here to read Cornick’s ‘letter to softball’ submitted to the NCAA.

Cornick was also active as a volunteer when she lived in Sioux Falls.

Cornick served as the Director of Community Outreach for KDSAP. Photo courtesy of Kendall Cornick