UMass track star Jada Harris is Atlantic 10’s co-nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year Award


Published: 7/29/2020 2:13:16 PM

UMass graduate Jada Harris is one of two Atlantic 10 nominees for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Harris, who is a standout track & field athlete for the Minutewomen, joins Duquesne swimmer Madelyn Hoying as the conference’s representatives.

“Jada and Madelyn have distinguished themselves as students, athletes, leaders and citizens and they truly represent the best among us in the Atlantic 10,” Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement. “Each year we have outstanding student-athletes that are nominated for this prestigious award. Jada and Madelyn stand out among this impressive group of young women, both with what they have already done on campus and in their communities, and what they plan to do with their futures. I congratulate both as the 2020 A-10 Woman of the Year honorees.”

Harris is in graduate school at UMass and has one additional season of eligibility remaining in outdoor track and field. Her spring season was cut short this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoying completed her eligibility during the 2019-20 season.

Both athletes were chosen as the league nominees by the Atlantic 10’s Senior Woman Administrators based on their athletic achievements, academic prowess, community involvement and leadership abilities. They were selected from a pool of 15 nominees, representing eight different sports and 11 Atlantic 10 institutions.

The NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee will select the top 30 (10 per division), and then will narrow the list to the top nine finalists (three per division) in late September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine. The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony this fall. The last Atlantic 10 nominee to be chosen as one of the nine finalists was Heather MacLean, a former UMass track and field and cross country standout who was invited to the final ceremony in 2018.

Harris has twice been honored as UMass’ Female Student-Athlete of the Year, she was a co-founder of Minority Student Athletes United (MSAU) at UMass which she describes as a student-led, discussion-based organization prioritizing the needs of student athletes of color. Harris also was a social justice peer educator on campus for Shaha (a diversity peer education troupe at UMass).

Her undergraduate degrees in social thought and political economy, and in communications, and her graduate program in public policy have been spurred by her leadership in societal change. She assisted UMass Athletics in acquiring a Women for UMass Amherst Fund award, and helped present an initiative entitled She Got G.R.I.T. (Gifted, Resilient, Intense, Tenacious), which seeks to empower female student-athletes through leadership and professional development. Her focus on public policy also led her to intern with U.S. Rep. Katherine M. Clark.

Harris was named the 2020 Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2020 Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships after earning three medals, including golds in the high jump and 60-meter hurdles, and helping UMass claim the title. Her record-breaking performance included tying her 2019 meet record in the 60-meter hurdles and breaking a 34-year old school record in the long jump, where she secured a silver medal.

The Bridgeport, Connecticut, native won nine Atlantic 10 individual titles.

Harris earned Dean’s List, Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the 4.0 Athletic Director’s Club distinction multiple times through her academic career. She was also named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team three times and the 2019 and 2020 USTFCCCA Division-I All-Academic Teams. She was also an Alpha Sigma National Honor Society Honoree.

JACKSON TAKES OVER — UMass director of men’s track and field and cross country David Jackson has been promoted to director for all of UMass track and field and cross country.

Jackson, who is entering his 12th year at UMass, has previously served as director of men’s track and field and cross country for three seasons, associate head coach for one season and an assistant coach of both men’s and women’s track & field programs for seven seasons.

“I am very excited to continue to build on the success that Coach (Julie) LaFreniere has built over her tenure for Massachusetts cross country and track & field,” Jackson said in a statement. “The lessons I have learned over my 10-plus years of working with her and coach (Ken) O’Brien are critical for myself and our staff’s future success of our program!”

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