Henderson named top player

Published 7:40 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

University of Notre Dame junior, Melissa Henderson, has won the 2011 Honda Sports Award in soccer, designating her as the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in that sport. (Daily Star photo/Courtesy University of Notre Dame)

Melissa Henderson, a junior at the University of Notre Dame, has won the 2011 Honda Sports Award in soccer, designating her as the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in that sport.

The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 35th year. Her win marks the second time that a University of Notre Dame soccer player has been honored with the award (Cindy Daws, ’97).

The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic eligibility to become a “Top Three” finalist for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Melissa Henderson was voted over three other nominees for the 2011 award:  Alex Morgan, a senior at University of California, Berkeley; Christen Press, a senior at Stanford University; and Sophie Schmidt, a senior at University of Portland. The candidates were selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

“I want to thank The Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards and Honda, as well as those who voted for this year’s Honda Sports Award,” Henderson said. “I have not only been blessed to be part of the team that won the national championship, but also to receive this award. Winning such a prestigious award is an honor, especially in light of the other nominees this year and those who have been nominated and received this award in the past. I am truly thankful to even be mentioned in the company of such tremendous student-athletes.”

A native of Garland, Texas, Henderson led her team this season to its third NCAA championship and was named 2010 NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player after assisting on a game-winning goal in the championship match. This year, she scored 17 goals and dished out a career-high 11 assists en route to a career-high 45 points, making her one of three players in the nation to be in the top 20 for goals (6th), assists (20th) and points (4th). So far in Henderson’s career, she has scored 52 goals, the 11th player to do so in school history, and 18 assists for 122 points (15th in school history). In 2010, she was named first-team All-American, first-team All-Northeast Region, Big East Offensive Player of the Year and by unanimous vote, was named first-team All-Big East. She was also a Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy finalist. Majoring in psychology, Henderson is a member of United States Under-23 National Team player pool.

Previously announced Honda Sports Award recipients include Sheila Reid from the Villanova University of Illinois for cross-country and Katie O’Donnell from the University of Maryland for field hockey. Honda Award winners in basketball, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, volleyball, and track & field will be announced in the coming months. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions. On June 27, 2011, the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup at a ceremony in New York, at which the “Top Three” finalists are scheduled to attend.