ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia equestrian’s Emma Mandarino, three-time First Team Academic All-American and Equitation Over Fences National Champion, was chosen as one of the Southeastern Conference nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, the NCAA announced Tuesday.
A total of 148 student-athletes chosen by NCAA conferences and a selection committee will advance as nominees for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The women were selected from a pool of 585 school nominees.
The Top 30 honorees, comprising 10 women from each division, will be named by the Woman of the Year selection committee in September. The selection committee will then narrow the pool to nine finalists — with three from each division — in early October. From those finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will select the 2019 Woman of the Year.
The award recognizes graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers. Georgia’s Keturah Orji was named the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year and Mandarino is the first nominee from the UGA equestrian team.
“I was so honored to have been nominated by Georgia for this award and now I’m thrilled to have advanced as a conference nominee,” Mandarino said. “My four years as a student-athlete were driven by hard work and passion. Really it all came together because I had so many wonderful women inspiring me. From mentors to teammates to coaches, these women were striking and resilient and the reasons behind my success. It’s hard to wrap my head around what a privilege it is to represent my school, my sport, my team, and now my conference with this nomination, but I will forever work to honor it and inspire girls to chase their dreams.”
Mandarino graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s of Business Administration in Accounting in May and will begin her master’s of accountancy in the fall of 2019. She is a five-time UGA Presidential Scholar, as well as a three-time National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) First Team Academic All-American. She was the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Boyd McWhorter Scholarship nominee from Georgia this year and earned the Bernard Ramsey Scholarship for Academic and Athletic Excellence for having a GPA within the top 10 of all UGA student-athletes.
After walking on the team as a freshman, Mandarino grew to be a two-year captain in her junior and senior seasons. She led the Bulldogs to back-to-back SEC Championships in 2017 and 2018, and the team finished Reserve Champions at the NCEA National Championship three-straight seasons. In 2019, Mandarino contributed to the Bulldogs’ Equitation Over Fences National Title.
As a constant competitor in Georgia’s Equitation Over Fences lineup, the Bedminster, New Jersey, native earned six Most Outstanding Performance honors as a Bulldog. She was recognized as NCEA Standout Student-Athlete of the Month (October 2017) and SEC Equitation Over Fences Rider of the Month (October 2017). She is the eighth leading scorer for Equitation Over Fences in Georgia equestrian history.
“We are so pleased to hear Emma is representing the SEC in this nomination,” Georgia equestrian head coach Meghan Boenig said. “You can see from reading Emma’s bio that she is outstanding both in the arena and in academics. What you don’t easily find in the stats is how outstanding she is in her leadership, passion for her team, and commitment to ‘The Georgia Way’. Emma is an inspiration to us all and has always been a driver of our collective success. We are thrilled for her to represent the university in this prestigious award.”
Mandarino is a member of Georgia’s Student Leadership Academy (LEAD) and was named UGA’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the equestrian team. She also earned the team’s Coaches’ Award, “Committed to the G”, and Sportsmanship awards.