Kayla Nielsen Named GNAC Sportswoman of the Year

BOSTON, MA – Pine Manor College soccer and softball player Kayla Nielsen was named Great Northeast Athletic Conference Sportswoman of the Year, the league announced Wednesday, lauding the freshman for her respect and integrity on and off her fields of play.

"Kayla is always positive and upbeat, which rubs off on the team,” said Nielsen’s soccer coach, Cory Kinsella. “Her presence and attitude are contagious.”

Martha Deusser, Nielsen’s softball coach, recalled a time when the catcher utilized her flexibility for the betterment of the team. “In Florida we were down a shortstop, and she said, ‘I’ll go wherever you need me to.’” Added Deusser, “She’s just a great kid.”

The goalkeeper for the Gators soccer team and a catcher-infielder on the diamond, Nielsen (Saco, ME/Thornton Academy) was named to the 2009 GNAC Softball All-Sportsmanship Team, as well as the Third Team All-Conference as a utility player. A selfless teammate who played wherever her team needed her, Nielsen was also instrumental in the Pine Manor community.

Nielsen helped conduct a workshop for a group of 20 girls from Boston’s Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, speaking to children about education, athletics and staying on course to success, with the workshop stressing the importance of teamwork. An outstanding representative of Pine Manor, she also spoke at the College’s Board of Visitors meeting regarding the student-athlete experience last fall.

As a result of her commitment and success on the field and in the community, Kayla was the recipient of the Peter G. Ellis Award. The Ellis Award is reserved for the first-year Pine Manor student-athlete who portrays outstanding “dedication, spirit and ability.”

From here, Nielsen, who led the GNAC and finished 19th in the NCAA with 11.86 saves per game for the Gators soccer team, will be nominated on behalf of the league for NCAA Sportswoman of the Year. The award, which rewards “respect for self, others and the sport,” will be released next month.

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