NCAA nominates softball player for national award

Upcoming senior outfielder Amy Carden prepares to swing against West Alabama during the 2015 softball season. The NCAA selected Carden as one of its Elite 90 award winners, which they give to athletes in every sport from each division for their contributions in the classroom and to their championship team.

by Managing Editor Mike Ezekiel

Some athletes do well on the field and in the classroom, but a select few set themselves apart going above and beyond in both school and sport.

The NCAA presents the Elite 90 award to 90 athletes, one from each championship sport on every level. The award represents outstanding classroom achievements from athletes on a championship team.

One of its recipients is UNA softball’s Amy Carden.

Carden, an upcoming senior right fielder for the Lions, helped her team win its first national championship in 2016 while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

“Amy is just an ideal person to have on your team,” said UNA head softball coach Ashley Cozart. “She just transcends what it takes to be successful. The way that she works off the field is how she works on the field, and she’s able to balance all of it. She goes 100 percent at everything that she does.”

The award “recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers,” according to NCAA.org.

Carden is now a finalist for the “Elite 90 Fan Favorite Contest,” where fans can vote for their favorite player among the NCAA’s 90 high-achieving student-athletes. This is the contest’s third year.

The top 30 moved into the semifinal round of the contest, where fans can vote July 18-19. The fans will vote on the final 10 contestants July 20-21.

The NCAA will announce the fan favorite winner July 22.

Carden said she enjoys representing her teammates and university through this platform, which includes many of the NCAA’s most popular Division I athletes.

“When I started looking at all the other athletes that got the award, I realized this is bigger than I thought it was,” Carden said. “I probably won’t win, but I really appreciate the support. I’m just happy to be recognized.”

Although the Elite 90 award is a pinnacle achievement for student-athletes, Carden said she’s never been the type of person to seek attention, whether she is on the field, in the classroom or serving in the community.

“The purpose behind volunteering for me isn’t to be recognized or to get attention,” Carden said. “I think when it does get to that point, then I feel like my intentions are wrong.”

Cozart said while Carden’s stats may not be the best, she is the team’s undoubted leader.

“Every day, people look up to her for leadership and to see what she’s doing,” Cozart said. “Even I do a lot of times. I appreciate what she brings to the team and everything she’s done to inspire us.”

To vote for Carden or any of the other athletes, visit NCAA.org.