HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - The Big South Conference announced Thursday evening at its Spring Meetings Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner that Virginia Military Institute track & field athlete Caroline Wortham (Richmond, Va.) is the Big South Conference's Woman of the Year for 2011-12. The Conference's Woman of the Year award is sponsored by Big South Corporate Partner Musco Sports Lighting.
The Big South's Woman of the Year Selection Committee voted Wortham the winner among the seven candidates nominated for the award. As the Big South's Woman of the Year, Wortham is nominated as a candidate for the national NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Wortham, a 3.91 student in biology, competed in the pole vault all four years at VMI, and equaled her personal best with a 3.30 meter jump at the VMI Collegiate Invitational in February. As a junior, she finished seventh at the Big South Outdoor Championships with a jump of 3.25 meters to mark her first career scoring effort at the Conference meet. Other career highlights include a seventh-place finish at the Military Track & Field Championships in 2010. Wortham also ran cross country during her freshman season of 2008 in addition to her time on the track team. A three-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, Wortham received the VMI Faculty Merit Scholarship her last two years, which is given to rising junior and senior cadets displaying excellence in scholarship, extracurricular activities and high military standing. She also was honored with the Marshall Prize for Military History in 2009.
After an injury forced her to give up competitive running following her freshman year, Wortham found success in encouraging and training with her teammates to help give them a better chance at performing well. She applied that mindset into serving as a tutor to her classmates. She was a Regimental S-2 Staff in Corps of Cadets where she was a captain and oversaw academics and academic support for the entire Corps. As captain she organized and coordinated academic support centers for first-year students who were struggling. Wortham also spent time with the VMI Rotaract Chapter where she was responsible for the formation of the club under the Shepard Poverty Program.
Off the track, Wortham made mission trips to Haiti twice and Honduras once where she worked with orphanages in both countries. She volunteered with the Midwives for Haiti and was involved in the VMI Engineers Without Borders Chapter. Wortham has also been involved with VMI's Recycling Club and also volunteered at the Rockbridge County SPCA. She also served as President of the VMI Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society. During her time at VMI, Wortham was inducted into six different Honor Society organizations, including the Phi Sigma Iota Honor Society in Iota International Foreign Language.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee will determine the top 10 and top three honorees in each division by considering specific guidelines. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will also use the same guidelines when selecting the 2012 award winner. All honorees receive an NCAA certificate and are included in press announcements. The top 10 honorees and the nine finalists from Divisions I, II and III will be honored and the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year winner announced at a dinner in Indianapolis on Oct. 14, 2012. The Big South had its first national finalist in 2005 when Winthrop's Janiva Willis was named one of the 10 finalists.