Kamali Thompson is a candidate for a very special award. Thompson, a former Temple fencing standout, is one of 429 female student athletes nominated for the 22nd annual NCAA Woman of the Year award.
“This is a real nice honor,” Thompson said. “I didn’t realize that only one person from each school was nominated for the award. It makes me feel good that Temple wanted me, of all the athletes, to be chosen.”
Thompson, a Teaneck, N.J., native, will be competing with student-athletes from Division I, II and III for this accolade. The award honors graduating female student-athletes who have done extremely well throughout their careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership.
“There were a couple of things I had to do to be nominated,” Thompson said. “You have to have a GPA over 3.25. I have that. I had to fill out an application where they wanted to know pretty much anything that I was involved in like all my community service and student activities. I had to write an essay on how my college environment changed me as a person. It’s not all athletic things. They’re trying to figure out who does the most for their community, too.”
Thompson did a lot for the Owls fencing team. She was a four-time NCAA championship qualifier. Thompson wrapped up her athletic career receiving All-American honors in the sabre at the NCAA championships this year.
As the first two-time winner of Temple’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year award, Thompson defeated three of the country’s best sabre performers along with the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Becca Ward from Duke to obtain All-America honors in the sabre. Thompson was very pleased with her exploits in fencing. She also credits Owls head coach Nikki Franke for her success.
“I got started in fencing in high school,” Thompson said. “I was just doing it recreationally for the first year. Then, I joined the club and decided to get serious about it.
“I started competing in national competitions, which is where I met Coach Franke. My senior she recruited me. I wasn’t going to be one of the starters. So, when I got to Temple I had to really work hard because I started fencing so late. I would say most kids start around 10 or 11 years old. I didn’t start until around 14 or 15. The college level competition was very rigorous. Coach Franke was really helpful with that. She told me what I had to do. She was really motivating. She helped me reach all my fencing goals.”
Thompson, a biology major and member of the Director’s Honor Roll, will attend Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., in the fall. The school is affiliated with Rutgers.
Each year, every NCAA member college and university is encouraged to honor its most outstanding graduating female student-athlete by submitting her name for consideration. At that point, the conferences pick one or two women from the nominees to represent their conference. Those names are then sent to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 10 honorees in each division.
From among those 30 candidates, the selection committee determines the top three in each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. After that, members of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will vote from among the finalists to select the NCAA Woman of the Year. The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the winner will be announced at the annual ceremony in Indianapolis, Ind., on Oct. 14.
“I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “If I were to get in the top 30 and go to Indianapolis, that would really be something.”