Lauren Drysdale named 2023 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee

By Army Athletic Communications - August 18, 2023
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lauren Drysdale, a 2023 U.S. Military Academy graduate and member of the Army West Point women’s soccer program, has been selected as the Patriot League nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year.

Drysdale is among the 62 Division I nominees on the ballot for the NCAA Woman of the Year, a program established in 1991. The nominees are selected based on four pillars: academics, athletics, service and leadership. Drysdale was chosen through a vote by the Patriot League Senior Woman Administrators (SWA).

The Irvine, California, native is a two-time All-Patriot League selection, a 2022 All-Patriot League Tournament team member and a 2022 Academic All-Patriot League honoree. The midfielder totaled eight points on three goals and two assists while helping a Black Knights’ defense tie for a League-best 0.75 goals against per game.

Entering her senior year at West Point, Drysdale was selected First Captain of the Corps of Cadets, achieving the highest position in the cadet chain of command. She graduated with a 3.59 cumulative GPA with a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Overall, there are 164 conference-level nominees for the 2023 Woman of the Year award with 62 from Division I, 39 from Division II and 63 from Division III. Nominees competed in 20 sports, with multisport student-athletes accounting for 51 of the nominees.

Next, The Woman of the Year Selection Committee, comprised of representatives from the NCAA membership, will choose the Top 30 honorees – 10 from each division – from the conference-level nominees. The Top 30 honorees will be announced in October. From those finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will choose the 2023 NCAA Woman of the Year and present the honor at the NCAA Convention in Phoenix in January.

Navy women’s soccer’s Victoria Tran, a Patriot League nominee in 2022, was an NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 honoree last year, the fourth League student-athlete to earn the accolade.

Lauren Drysdale Personal Statement

The growth and development I underwent as an athlete, scholar and leader at West Point was unparalleled to anything I experienced before. The path I embarked on was challenging and, at times, lonely. My relationships, values and worth were tested to an unprecedented level, but the lessons I learned made it all worthwhile.

While a cadet at West Point, I had the opportunity to serve as a two-time captain of the Army women’s soccer team and became the eighth female First Captain in the history of the Corps of Cadets. For context, as First Captain, one is responsible for the overall performance of the approximately 4,400-member Corps of Cadets. The First Captain is the highest-ranking cadet in the Cadet Chain of Command, and the duties include implementing a class agenda and acting as a liaison between the Corps and the administration. 

In addition to these roles, I had the opportunity to serve as the Cadet Basic Training regimental command sergeant major, a role that oversees the transformation of the newly admitted civilian class into cadets prepared to take on the challenge of West Point and military life. These leadership experiences have made a profound impact on the person I am today.

While each leadership role required me to lead in different ways, whether that was in the classroom, on the field, or with the Corps, the foundation of who I am and the steadfast values that made me successful in one role ultimately made me successful in the next. My experiences as a cadet and leader on campus taught me that self-worth is defined by me and me only. 

My worth is not based on my performance on the soccer field or in the classroom. It is not rooted in accomplishments, awards or accolades. My worth goes beyond these external measures. It is rooted in my personal qualities and the impact I have on others. Furthermore, these experiences taught me that to develop is to be developed; to give is to receive. Life always comes full circle. That is, every time I poured, someone poured back. This reminds me to fill the cups of others just as they have filled mine. I also learned that if you know your WHY, you can endure any HOW (Viktor Frankl). At some point, we are all susceptible to losing our way, but there were always good people hanging around, waiting for the opportunity to remind me WHY. I hope to be the leader that reminds those I am leading of their WHY.

As a young leader on the soccer team, I learned that the way I trained and competed every day was an expression of my true character, and the decisions I made off the field defined how I performed on the field. Knowing that younger teammates were looking to me as an example as both a player and cadet, I needed to consistently show up. I needed to be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform, with the right attitude, for the right reasons. These values were reinforced as I took on greater responsibilities within the Corps of Cadets, and I am grateful to soccer for providing me such a strong foundation to stand on.

The culminating moment in which my life as a leader changed was when my focus went from “me” to “we.” For great leaders, their ambition is first and foremost to the team, and they lead for a reason that is greater and more enduring than themselves. Great leaders create leaders, and they realize that people on the road to building strong character understand that no one can achieve self-mastery on their own. They are vulnerable enough to realize they need redemptive assistance from the outside.

I have internalized these lessons to inspire and empower those I lead. As a First Captain, I am influencing and inspiring four years’ worth of Army officers who then go on to lead their own platoons and groups of people. In a way, the ripple effect of that role is immeasurable, but it’s not about my impact. It’s about how my inspiration and empowerment of others gives them the ability to impact, and that’s the positive impact I hope to have on the world: create more leaders, grounded in selfless ideals who find their worth in their ability to impact the lives of those they will one day lead. While challenging, I hope the journey and road I embarked on inspires young girls to do the same. I hope that through my efforts, their journey will be paved with smoother roads and clearer skies.