Indianapolis, IND. — Former Florida two-time All-American softball player, Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.), will join the ranks of five Gator All-Americans as a NCAA Top VIII Award winner in January at the 2012 Honors Celebration during the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. The award is given annually to eight NCAA student-athletes and Bruder, the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and 2011 softball Honda Award winner, becomes UF’s sixth overall recipient of the award, the first honoree since Tim Tebow in 2009.
“Being chosen as a NCAA Top VIII Award winner is almost unbelievable. My time at UF was such a blessing, it molded me into the person and player I am today and I am forever in debt to my coaches and teammates for the experience,” Bruder said. “I can’t begin to thank Gator Nation enough for the unwavering support and the NCAA for this honor. It truly is great to be a Florida Gator.”
The NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award recognizes student-athletes who completed their athletics eligibility during the 2010-11 academic year for their success on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community. The honorees are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which is composed of athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes.
“The NCAA Top VIII Award is a tribute to Kelsey Bruder for all of the hard work and determination that she put forth in becoming the student-athlete she is today,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “Kelsey has meant so much to our program and for her to be recognized with such a prestigious national honor really shows a lot about her and her drive, both on and off the field. We strive to create a culture of excellence at Florida and Kelsey is a great example of the type of leader – a first-class person and student-athlete – that we hope to develop for continuation of our program’s success.”
Bruder, the 2011 SEC Player of the Year, led the Gators to the 2011 Women’s College World Series, where they played for their second National Championship in the last three years, marking the team’s fourth straight WCWS appearance – the first SEC team to accomplish the feat. She was named to the 2011 WCWS All-Tournament Team and is a two-time All-American and Academic All-American.
Bruder is member of the “winningest class” in University of Florida history, leading the Southeastern Conference in 2011 through league play in runs (32), doubles (10), slugging percentage (.883), hits (40), RBI (36) and home runs (11). She tops Florida’s all-time list for total bases in a season (152) and her 79 runs last season marked a single-season school record. She was also a part of the NCAA-record 70 wins her freshman year in 2008 and has been a part of just 33 losses in her four-year tenure at Florida. Bruder carries a 3.70 GPA as a Health, Education & Behavior major, and will earn her undergraduate degree following her fall internship in December 2011. She was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 National Pro Fastpitch Senior Draft to the USSSA Florida Pride and has continued her softball career professionally.
Bruder is among three SEC student-athletes that will be honored as 2010-11 Top VIII Award winners in January. For the full release and information on all of this year’s winners, visit NCAA.org
University of Florida NCAA Top VIII Award Winners
(Presented by the NCAA honoring eight distinguished student athletes annually for achievement in athletics, academics and leadership)
– Kelsey Bruder, Softball, 2011
– Tim Tebow, Football, 2009
– Stephanie Nickitas, Tennis, 1999
– Danny Wuerffel, Football, 1996
– Megan Neyer, Diving, 1986 (formerly top six)
– Tracy Caulkins, Swimming, 1985 (formerly top six)
2012 NCAA Top VIII Award Winners
(For 2010-11 school year, to be honored in January 2012)
– Sam Acho: University of Texas at Austin, football
– Kelsey Bruder: University of Florida, softball
– Shannon Gagne: University of New Haven, indoor and outdoor track and field
– Kayla Hoffman: University of Alabama, gymnastics
– Lee Ellis Moore: University of Mississippi, indoor and outdoor track and field
– Danielle Robinson: University of Oklahoma, basketball
– Kendra Stern: Amherst College, swimming and diving
– Brittany Viola: University of Miami (Florida), swimming and diving