GORHAM, Maine – University of Southern Maine Huskies' softball standout Mary Caron (Lewiston, Maine/St. Dominic's Academy) has been nominated to receive the NCAA's prestigious Woman of the Year award. Caron is one of a record 543 nominees from across the NCAA's three divisions. Nominees from each institution excel in the four pillars of the Woman of the Year award program: academics, athletics, service and leadership. One hundred ninety-eight nominees are from the NCAA Division III ranks. To be eligible, a nominee must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport, completed their eligibility in her sport and have earned her undergraduate degree by summer of 2017. Eligible student-athletes are nominated by their member school, whose corresponding conference office reviews nominations and submits nominees to the NCAA.
"Mary is quite simply one of the finest student-athletes to ever don the University of Southern Maine colors," noted USM Director of Athletics Al Bean. "She is exceptional in every way and has been an outstanding representative for the University. Mary is a leader in the classroom, on the diamond and in the community. Mary is a shining example of our goals when we talk about the well-rounded student-athlete. I am very proud of Mary and what she has accomplished at USM and not at all surprised that she is among the nation's very best and brightest."
A two-year captain of the Huskies' softball program, and a 2017 Little East Conference first team selection at shortstop, Caron has starred for the Huskies' program since 2015. In her final season with the Huskies, Caron joined an elite group of University of Southern Maine student-athletes, becoming the Huskies' seventh individual to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American ® honors with her selection to the Academic All-America ® Division III Softball Third Team. Caron is the first USM softball player to earn the prestigious academic accolade for her outstanding achievements in the classroom and on the field. As the seventh USM student-athlete to receive Academic All-America ® honors from CoSIDA, Caron joins Husky standouts Alison Drury (women's college division fall/winter at-large, third team, 2000), Darryl Whitney (men's cross country/track and field, second team, 2003), Ashley Marble (women's basketball, first team, 2007), Molly Carl (women's cross country/track and field, third team, 2012), Chris Bernard (baseball, second team, 2014), and Daniel Del Gallo (wrestling, second team, 2016; first team, 2017).
Named co-winner of the 2017 Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award during the athletics' department year-end honors banquet, Caron earned first team Academic All-District honors, becoming the fifth USM softball player and first since Sarah McLean in 2003 to earn the academic distinction, gaining eligibility for the Academic All-America ballot. To qualify for nomination, a student-athlete must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.30 or above. Caron far exceeds the minimum standards carrying a 4.0 GPA in her Master's in Public Health studies, and a 3.96 GPA in her bachelor's degree in Biology. Caron earned the 2017 Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award as selected by the USM Athletics Department staff. Presented annually to the female student-athlete who exemplifies the qualities of the former USM Field Hockey Coach/faculty member and administrator, who was a pioneer in women's athletics: athletic achievement, loyalty, leadership, dedication and commitment.
A two-time recipient William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete and Little East Conference All-Academic Team selection, Caron was a Teaching Assistant for the Intro to Public Health class and the Graduate Assistant for the Master's in Public Health program chair. In the community, Caron volunteers her time with 4H helping grow interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in a local fifth grade classroom. This summer, Caron is completing a field experience opportunity with the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) working in Chronic Disease and Epidemiology. Caron hopes that her educational background and various field experiences and internships will translate into career success as she plans on pursuing epidemiology or environmental health in her post-graduate years.
Anchoring the Huskies' defense at shortstop for the last three seasons, Caron led Southern Maine in batting average (.349), RBI (21), hits (38), doubles (10), and triples (3). For her career, Caron played in 112 games collecting 133 hits and driving in 61 runs. She hit .356 over her career, with 25 doubles, seven triples, and five home runs.