Barkevich named 2020 America East Woman of the Year

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BOSTON – University at Albany senior Kelly Barkevich has been named America East Woman of the Year for the 2019-20 season, the conference announced Tuesday.  Barkevich is UAlbany’s second-straight Woman of the Year, and fourth in history.  She was named alongside America East Man of the Year Christian Lutete from UMass Lowell.
 
“It is such an honor to be selected as the America East Women of the Year,” Barkevich said.  “To be chosen out of so many amazing student-athletes that make our conference great leaves me completely speechless and humbled that UAlbany and the America East think so highly of me.  Every day, I think about how lucky I am that I was able to attend and play softball at UAlbany, and consider it one of my best decisions I have ever made.  As a team, the places we have been able to see, the competition we have been able to play, and the memories we have created has been a dream come true.  I can’t thank Coach Cannata and the entire coaching staff enough for believing in me and pushing that young, shy freshman out of her comfort zone every single day. 
 
“It has been such a pleasure getting to meet and work alongside the UAlbany and America East administrations thanks to my involvement in SAAC,” Barkevich continued.  “Getting to support and advocate for causes at the core of our beliefs has been extremely rewarding and has given me many of the highlights of my collegiate career.  One of the things I will forever cherish from being a collegiate athlete is the bonds I have formed with my teammates and fellow athletes over the years.  Nobody said it would be easy, but they have been there for me every step of the way as we strived to reach greatness, both on and off the field.  Lastly, there are not enough words to express how much my parents and family has done for me over my lifetime.  Without them, I 100% wouldn’t be the person I am today.  Selflessness, dedication, and love are just a few of the traits they have shown me throughout this journey, and ones I have tried to internalize and share with the world.  Thank you again for this prestigious award; it is one I will never forget.”
 
Last week, the America East announced Barkevich as one of three finalists selected from a list of nine overall nominees for the Woman of the Year award.  She was selected ahead of the two other finalists, Lucrezia Costa from UMBC basketball, and Clodagh O’Reilly from Stony Brook cross country and track & field.
 
Barkevich follows immediately in the footsteps of UAlbany track & field alumna Tara Belinsky, who was named America East Woman of the Year for the 2018-19 season.  Previously, volleyball’s Ashley Reed (2006) and lacrosse’s Nikki Branchini (2011) claimed the award for UAlbany.
 
“Throughout her outstanding career, Kelly has demonstrated and epitomized the attributes that we strive to instill in our student-athletes,” said UAlbany Director of Athletics Mark Benson.  “UAlbany is truly fortunate to have an individual of Kelly’s caliber as a representative.  Her accomplishments on and off the field speak for themselves.  Her passion for giving back and helping others has expanded into our community through her work with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and within the America East.  Those qualities will make her an excellent teacher when she begins her career beyond UAlbany.
 
“To have one of our Great Danes named America East Woman of the Year in consecutive seasons speaks to the remarkable work our student-athletes put in to be Great Leaders, Great Champions, Great Danes, and to the special quality of the individuals who choose UAlbany to be their home during their college years,” Benson continued.
 
First awarded in 2006, the America East Woman of the Year honors the top female senior student-athlete who has distinguished herself on and off the field.  With its men’s counterpart, the Woman of the Year award is the highest student-athlete honor bestowed by the conference.  To be nominated, a student-athlete must have completed intercollegiate eligibility in their primary sport by the end of the 2019 spring season, or received their undergraduate degree prior to the conclusion of the summer 2019 term, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.
 
By virtue of winning the America East Woman of the Year award, Barkevich will be nominated to the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee, which will identify the Top 30 nominees – 10 from each division – and from there selects three finalists from each division.  The Committee on Women’s Athletics then selects the winner from the nine finalists.  All 30 Woman of the Year honorees will be recognized, and the 2020 Woman of the Year announced, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.
 
Barkevich, an infielder on the softball team, has appeared in 122 games in her career, making 99 starts.  She has hit .262 with 10 doubles, 17 home runs, and 67 RBIs.  In the shortened 2020 season, Barkevich appeared in all 11 games for UAlbany, including 10 starts, while hitting .290 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs and slugging .548.  Barkevich was a member of the 2017 and 2018 America East championship teams, advancing to play in the regional brackets at the University of Alabama and the University of Oregon, respectively, in consecutive years.
 
“I’m so proud of Kelly for being named the America East Woman of the Year,” said UAlbany softball coach Chris Cannata.  “From the first day she stepped on campus here at UAlbany, Kelly has unselfishly dedicated her time to serving others.  She has done this with our softball team by being a true leader and always putting the team first.  She has also excelled in her leadership in this athletic department and the America East by serving on numerous committees and volunteering countless hours to help others.  She is everything you could ask for in a student-athlete and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach her.”
 
Academically, Barkevich earned her undergraduate degree in three years in May, 2019 in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Management, and a minor in Economics.  She has since completed the first year of her Master’s program, studying Special Education & Literacy.  Barkevich is a two-time member of the America East softball Al-Academic team, and has been named to the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times, and to the Dean’s List six times.  She was named a 2019 Presidential Scholar-Athlete, won the 2019 America East Helping Hands award, and won the 2020 Great Dane Leadership and Iron Dane awards.
 
Beyond the field and the classroom, Barkevich is the Vice President of the UAlbany Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and is a member of the America East Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  In 2019-20, she served on the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board, and is a member of the Presidential Honors Society.  Additionally, Barkevich served as a mentor in the inaugural year of UAlbany’s student-athlete wellness program, founded in 2018-19 by Belinsky.
 
During her time with SAAC, Barkevich has helped organize and plan events in conjunction with the UAlbany athletic department and the America East, such as the annual #SpreadRespect games, as well as the inaugural #BetterTogether games in 2019 and the 2020 virtual #BetterTogether Week on social media.  Barkevich has also coordinated the annual Danes Dodge Cancer dodgeball tournament and the collection of goods from the UAlbany athletics programs for the annual America East Food Frenzy.  This year, the Food Frenzy reached their goal of collecting 20,000 cans.
 
Barkevich has also coordinated volunteer efforts including Ronald McDonald readings at local elementary schools, cooking breakfast for the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, and the annual Commitment to Education Day put on by women’s basketball.
 
Pursuing a career in elementary education, Barkevich worked as a teaching assistant in the South Colonie Central School District, spending six weeks during the summer in the special education half-day program.  She also began working as a substitute in May 2019 at Colonie in a self-contained classroom for grades three and four.

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