MANSFIELD, MASS.- A total of three New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) institutions have nominated a student-athlete for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, with Eastern Nazarene College’s Elisabeth Schaffer (Benton, Pa.) emerging as the conference’s representative. Becker College’s Kyra Teixeira (Old Lyme, Conn.) and Elms College’s Rebecca Molin (West Hartford, Conn.) were also nominated by their respective institutions.
Established in 1991, The NCAA Woman of the Year program “honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions.” Schaffer, the 2019-2020 NECC Female Senior Student-Athlete of the Year, certainly excelled in each of those arenas. She was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, the National Student-Athlete Honor Society, and has been named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Scholar-Athlete three times. She has been named Academic All-NECC twice, and was named to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) All-Academic team once. She was also recently announced as a finalist for the Eastern Nazarene Outstanding Senior award, which will be awarded at the college’s upcoming commencement.
Schaffer is heavily involved on the Eastern Nazarene campus. A biology major, Schaffer works to empower women in the sciences, and served as President of the Schrader Club, which aims to enhance the academic and spiritual experience of students in the Biology and Chemistry department at Eastern Nazarene. She worked on the Lab Animal Caretaker Team on campus, looking after a variety of rescued reptiles and amphibians that are used for educational purposes. She was also a member of the Eastern Nazarene Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
There is no argument the pitcher is certainly a stand-out on the softball field. Holding all of the Eastern Nazarene career and single season pitching records, she has been a conference Pitcher of the Year twice, once in the NECC and once in the CCC. She has three all-conference team accolades under her belt, and was named a Fastpitch News All-American following her junior campaign. Schaffer has also been honored regionally, earning NFCA All-Region honors twice. In her career, she has totaled an impressive 720 strikeouts, and a 58-25 record.
Schaffer led the Lions to their program’s first championship, and subsequently, their first ever NCAA appearance in 2019. She was the NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player, and earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament team honors. Her senior season had a promising start, with 82 strikeouts in 53.2 innings pitched, while going 5-and-3 with two saves before the season ended prematurely due to COVID-19.
According to Eastern Nazarene Athletic Director, Dr. Brad Zarges, Elisabeth has been the consummate student-athlete. “Liz embodies everything that should be expected in a student-athlete. She leaned into her academic studies in the sciences, including taking advantage of additional experiences outside the classroom. Her competitiveness, ability, and commitment are a model of excellence in her sport. All of this while being deeply engaged in campus life.”
Schaffer also made her presence felt outside of the Eastern Nazarene campus. She spends time during her holiday breaks singing Christmas carols at a local Children’s Hospital, and volunteers coaching softball for the New England Storm softball club. In addition, Schaffer has traveled internationally with Beyond Sports, an organization that aims to create “mutually beneficial opportunities for US student-athletes, international athletes, and international youth to enjoy a life-changing cross-cultural experience through sport.”
“Liz has left a mark at Eastern Nazarene College,” said Zarges. “More importantly, she has established relationships with all that have been blessed to meet her.”
Schaffer will continue her education at the New England School of Optometry in the fall.
Kyra Teixeira has been a stand-out in her own right, as a two-sport athlete for the Hawks. The Exercise Science major was named to the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Scholar All-East Region Third Team following her senior campaign. She was also recently awarded Becker’s John J. Dorsey Scholar Athlete Award, which is presented to a Becker College senior that has excelled both in the classroom and in the athletic arena, and takes into account both athletic accomplishments and academic standing. In addition, she has been inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, and has been named to the NECC Academic All-Conference team for both soccer and softball in each of her eligible semesters. Teixeira was also a member of Becker’s SAAC, and assisted in the planning and implementation of several Special Olympics events throughout her four years.
In her rookie season, Teixeira suffered a catastrophic knee injury- yet she battled back and was named the 2019 NECC Women’s Soccer Player of the Year, leading the Hawks with 44 points and 18 goals. She has been named All-Conference twice in her soccer career. On the diamond, she had tallied three hits and an RBI in her senior softball campaign before it ended prematurely.
Rebecca Molin has had a stellar soccer career at Elms, starting every game in goal for the Blazers for four consecutive years. Molin has played in three NECC championship matches, taking home the title in 2016. She bookended her career with NECC Goalkeeper of the Year honors in her senior and rookie campaigns. She was also an All-Conference performer in each of her four seasons. She leaves Elms leading the record books in all major statistical categories for goalkeepers.
Molin has been an NECC Academic All-Conference honoree in each of her three eligible seasons. She is a double major in Business Management and Marketing, and was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma and Sigma Beta Delta. She has spent time volunteering with children with special needs at Top Soccer and with Special Olympics.
Schaffer will enter the pool of conference nominees, which will be narrowed down to the Top 30 – 10 from each division – by the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee. From there, the committee identifies three finalists from each division. The Committee on Women’s Athletics then selects the winner from the nine finalists.
The 2020 Woman of the Year will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.