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DePauw's Kopp Garners Pam Smith Award

DePauw's Kopp Garners Pam Smith Award

Recent DePauw University graduate and women’s basketball student-athlete Sydney Kopp (Burr Ridge, IL/Hinsdale South) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 North Coast Athletic Conference Pam Smith Award.

A four-year member of the DePauw Women’s Basketball team, Kopp garnered national attention this past season. She was the first DePauw player to earn Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and All-America first-team honors in the same season. She was a two-time All-Great Lakes region selection, as well as being named the 2019-20 Great Lakes Co-Player of the Year. Kopp was a three-time All-NCAC first-team member, earning 2019-20 NCAC Player of the Year honors. She was also the 2020 Josten’s Award winner, as well as being a Team of the Week honoree three times in her career and tabbed the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Player of the Week once in her senior season.

During Kopp’s playing career, the Tigers were crowned NCAC champions four times, while also advancing to the NCAA Division III tournament each year. Kopp ended her career as the school’s single-game recordholder for points (42) and three-pointers made (9). She also stands as the Tigers’ all-time leading scorer with 1,733 points and set career records for scoring average (14.7), field goals made (620), field goals attempted (1,453), three-point field goals made (240) and three-point field goals attempted (644). Her 658 points and 21.9 scoring average in 2019-20 were both school records, as well as her 230 field goals made, 541 field goals attempted, and 217 three-point field goals made.

Kopp graduated this spring with a 3.77 grade-point average, earning a degree in political science. She was named the 2020 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America® of the Year for NCAA Division III Women's Basketball and was a two-time member of the Academic All-District team (2019 & ’20). She was named to DePauw’s Dean’s List in seven-of-eight semesters, as well as being a DePauw Honors Scholar. Kopp is also a two-time Chi Alpha Sigma National Scholar-Athlete and this spring earned Phi Beta Kappa induction. She departs DePauw as an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.

Aside from success on the court and in the classroom, Kopp has volunteered for the last three years as a court appointed special advocate in which she is assigned to assist a family with a court case involving child support services and the Department of Child Services. She has also volunteered with PeacePlayers International in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she instructed approximately 150 youth to use basketball to unite, educate and inspire young people to create a more peaceful world. At DePauw, she was actively involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), spending 2018-19 as the events coordinator and 2019-20 as the SAAC president. She was also an executive board member for “Embrace Your Stripes”, an organization which focuses on student-athlete mental health. She also volunteered with Special Olympics and Team Impact, while serving as a team captain on the women’s basketball team.

Kopp was one of six outstanding nominees considered by the selection committee. The other candidates included:

Ally Green, Women’s Soccer, Hiram College
KT Kustritz, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Denison University
Cirrus Robinson, Women’s Track & Field, Ohio Wesleyan University
Hannah Sklar, Field Hockey, Kenyon College
Taylor Yontz, Volleyball, Wittenberg University

The NCAC Woman of the Year Award commemorates former Wittenberg women’s basketball Head Coach and Associate Director of Athletics Pam Evans Smith, who had a profound impact upon the athletes she coached and the students she taught over an illustrious career that spanned more than two decades. She was the architect of the women’s basketball program with the most wins and highest winning percentage in NCAC history through 2007. A 1999 Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor inductee, Smith earned seven NCAC Coach of the Year awards and compiled a 401-170 record after taking the reins of a struggling program prior to the 1986-87 season. She led the Tigers to eight NCAA Division III tournament appearances, twelve 20-win seasons, and 11 NCAC regular season championships. 

As the NCAC winner, Kopp will be nominated, along with Ohio Wesleyan’s Cirrus Robinson (Ashland, OH/Ashland), for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious honors the NCAA bestows. The award recognizes senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service, and leadership. Each NCAA conference, and independent institutions, can submit two nominations for the NCAA Woman of the Year award as long as one of the nominees is a student-athlete of color or is an international student-athlete. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) will now meet to select the top 10 winners in each division. In September, the selection committee will then evaluate the 30 honorees and choose the top three in each division. Finally, the members of the CWA will vote from among the top nine finalists to determine the Woman of the Year. The 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced later this fall.

NCAC Pam Smith Award Winners

2020 - Sydney Kopp, DePauw
2019 - Hannah Orbach-Mandel, Kenyon
2018 - Julia Wilson, Kenyon
2017 - Ellie Crawford, Kenyon
2016 - Haley Townsend, Kenyon
2015 - Maggie MacPhail, DePauw
2014 - Paige Gooch, DePauw
2013 - Leah Sack, Kenyon
2012 - Alisa Vereshchagin, Kenyon
2011 - Katie Navarre, Denison
2010 - Sarah Shinn, Ohio Wesleyan
2009 - Tracy Menzel, Kenyon
2008 - Erin Gorsich, Denison