2009 MC graduate Tanesha Hughes was one of 30 finalists who were recognized in October at the NCAA Woman of the Year awards dinner in Indianapolis.
Hughes will also participate in the Woman of the Year Legacy Garden program, which provides middle school female students the opportunity to join the NCAA Woman of the Year honorees in a day of community service. The community-service activity includes planting seasonal flowers, bulbs, trees and shrubs, mulching, and watering the garden. The garden will be a permanent addition in the White River State Park, where the NCAA national office is located.
Hughes said when she heard she was being nominated for Woman of the Year honors, she didn’t expect to advance far.
“There are a lot of great athletes out there and the NCAA is big,” she said. “I didn’t think I would get this far, but I’m so happy I did.”
A four-year competitor in volleyball, basketball and indoor/outdoor track, Hughes was named the Midwest Conference representative for the NCAA’s prestigious award, given annually to a female athlete who has distinguished herself, not only in the athletic arena, but also in the classroom and community.
She is the third woman in the history of the college to advance past the first round of selections. Current women’s basketball coach Melissa Bittner was the Illinois state winner in 2003 and a top 10 finalist for the national award.
An outside hitter for volleyball, a center on the basketball team and a thrower in track and field, Hughes had a stellar senior season in all three sports. She earned her first All-American award in the final track meet of her career, placing fourth in the discus at the NCAA National Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and she earned her first volleyball and basketball all-conference awards, too.
The five-time Midwest Conference track and field champion’s appearance at last spring’s outdoor championships was her third appearance at the meet.
In volleyball, Hughes was second on the team in blocks and third in kills. On the hardwood, the 5-foot-10 Hughes had her career-best year, leading the MWC in both scoring and rebounding.
In the classroom, Hughes earned academic all-conference status 10 times. She was also named to the National Dean’s List and holds membership in Blue Key honor society and the National Society of Scholastic Scholars. During her career at Monmouth, Hughes was involved in more than 15 volunteer activities, including Special Olympics, Relay for Life and Circle K International.
Hughes, who currently works as a software specialist for a technology company outside St. Louis, urged current student-athletes to savor their collegiate careers.
“I’ve been a multisport athlete since the fifth grade and there’s nothing like being on a team,” she said. “You have to enjoy it while you can because those moments are priceless."