Michaela Calnan '11 was announced as one of the nine finalists for the 2011 NCAA Woman of the Year award on September 14.

A record 471 collegiate players were initially nominated for the honor, and the top 30 contenders were named in August before the top three finalists from each division were chosen, Calnan among them. The final Woman of the Year will be announced next month.

The highly-coveted award "honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, community service, and leadership," according to the NCAA website.

Calnan certainly distinguished herself during her Bowdoin career. She played on both the field hockey and ice hockey teams during each of her four years at Bowdoin, was named an Academic All-American four times, and received Bowdoin's Watras Memorial Women's Ice Hockey Trophy twice.

She was also recognized as a Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar, won her field hockey team's "unsung hero award" in 2010, and was ultimately nominated by the College as the top achieving student-athlete graduate last spring.

"My coaches, my professors, everyone on campus encouraged me to follow through in a certain endeavor, but not to neglect any one direction," said Calnan. "The award is more a reflection on the school. I feel like it's more for my teammates and Bowdoin's reputation than for me as an individual."

Throughout her field hockey career, Calnan, a left defender, helped the team win three NCAA and NESCAC championships in 2007, 2008, and 2010 under Head Coach Nicky Pearson.

"In many ways left defender is one of the hardest positions on the field, but Calnan made it seem so easy," said Pearson. "She could read the game incredibly well and she was notably impressive under pressure. She grew into that position, owned it, and dominated it."

As an ice hockey player, Calnan excelled under the guidance of Head Coach Marissa O'Neil '05, who coached Calnan's senior season of high school at Middlesex School as well as her senior season at Bowdoin.

"I don't think she realizes how big the award really is, and that's why she's such an amazing person," said O'Neil. "She's such a driven, motivated student-athlete who never takes herself too seriously. I may never again have the opportunity to work with such a well-rounded, respectful person."

In addition to athletics, Calnan also devoted time to tutoring, serving as a Baldwin Mentor and working with younger students at local Mt. Ararat Middle School. She was designated a fellow at the McKeen Center and was its president her senior year.

Ella Curren '12, captain of this year's field hockey team, recalled how Calnan offered academic encouragement to the players.

"She would always talk to the team about the options the Baldwin program offered or would offer them herself," Curren said. "She completely deserves the Woman of the Year award and our whole team is excited for her."

It was Pearson who first introduced the award to Calnan.

"After spring break, Coach Pearson approached me and said she thought that I would be a good nominee," said Calnan. "I had to fill out an application that asked me to explain every activity I'd been involved in at Bowdoin...it was like filling out college applications."

To be considered for the award, a nominee from a NESCAC school must first be chosen as the sole nomination from the athletic conference by a subcommittee.

"The preliminary scoring system involves athletic, academic, and service components," said Director of Athletics Jeff Ward. "It's easy to see nominees who are very strong in all areas...but no one was ever more deserving than she."

Ward, who serves on the subcommittee, mentioned that there were six NESCAC candidates this year. He takes part in the selection process, but excused himself from the room when Calnan's name was under consideration in order to remain unbiased.

Calnan found out she was the NESCAC nominee immediately after she graduated with honors in May with a major in neuroscience and a minor in chemistry. She is currently working in Boston as an analyst at Analysis Group.

"I pretty much didn't hear anything until I found out I was one of the finalists," she said. "They're really intense about everything now."

At the national level, an NCAA committee reviews nominees before selecting honorees and finalists based on athletic, academic, and service achievements.

The national winner will be announced by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics at the Woman of the Year Awards Dinner in Indianapolis, which Calnan and the other finalists will attend on October 16.