Top 10 of 2014: #6 is Grace Kucharski Recognized Nationally Both On and Off Court

Top 10 of 2014: #6 is Grace Kucharski Recognized Nationally Both On and Off Court
Grace Kucharski Doubles All-America and CoSIDA Academic All-America® Awards to Make WNE Volleyball History (originally posted Dec. 9, 2014)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--It's here...the top-10 of 2014 in Western New England University Athletics. Through the month of January, we'll unveil the top 10 stories/moments played out by Western New England NCAA teams, coaches and student-athletes for the last calendar year. The countdown continues with our No. 6 entry: women's volleyball defensive specialist Grace Kucharski becoming the first female student-athlete at WNE to earn playing All-America and Academic All-America accolades in the same season in eight years.

The team's 2014 Iron Woman Award winner for a tireless work ethic, Kucharski used that determination to earn a slew of major accomplishments at the conference, regional and national levels in her senior year. She repeated as the Commonwealth Coast Conference Libero of the Year and on the all-CCC First Team, was named an AVCA coaches' All-America (the only CCC libero) and all-New England for the second year in a row, placed on the Capital One Academic All-America® Third Team by the College Sports Information Directors' of America and will be selected to the academic all-conference team when it is announced later this month. The school's all-time digs leader who ranks ninth in New England NCAA Division III history with 2,118, also was a New England Women's Volleyball Association Division III Senior Classic participant.

The business management major (emphasis in enterprise resource planning) becomes just the second female student-athlete in WNE history to earn both field All-America and classroom CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition in the same season. Allison Jameson was the first to receive titles for both playing All-America and Academic All-America® as she was tabbed to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Third Team in the fall 2006 and CoSIDA ESPN the Magazine College Division Women's At-Large Second Team in the spring 2007.

Besides 492 digs to finish second in the CCC this fall, Kucharski placed first in the conference with a career-high 69 service aces. She wound up in fifth place on the all-time school chart with 249 aces.

A three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District® First Team selection, four-time All-CCC pick on the court and even an all-conference catcher in softball, Kucharski sports a 3.92 overall grade-point average. She has been a Life Skills mentor, University admissions associate and multiple Dean's List recipient. Kucharski missed the softball season in 2014 because she was accepted into the prestigious Walt Disney Company College Internship Program, but she'll be back on the diamond this spring. When not in the playing area, her community service activities include United Way, Dig Pink, American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, and Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Center fundraiser, and she has been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

All told, WNE Athletics has produced 17 recipients who have achieved 23 citations--including 20 Academic All-Americans® in the last 13 years. To be nominated, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale) at his/her current institution and complete one full calendar year at his/her current institution, and has reached sophomore athletic eligibility. Forty-five Golden Bears have been selected 64 times to various All-America sports teams--with most coming since 2005.

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Top 10 Western New England Athletics Stories/Moments for 2014
#10: Football Wins Inaugural Pynchon SAW Game in Big Comeback at Springfield College
#9: Men's Golf Dominates All-Commonwealth Coast Conference Awards
#8: School-Record 131 Academic All-Conference Selections
#7: Kevin Cook Rushes Way into Football Program's Record Book
#6: Grace Kucharski is the First WNE Women's Volleyball Player Named both All-American and CoSIDA Academic All-American®