During her time as a star of the Cornell women’s lacrosse and volleyball teams, Jaimee Reynolds ’02 was never one who enjoyed the spotlight. But whether she liked it or not, Reynolds was thrust into it once more this past weekend, as she was honored as one of 10 finalists for the annual NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Reynolds, who was named the New York State Woman of the Year and then a finalist for the national honor in September, attended a banquet this past Saturday night in Indianapolis that honored the achievements of each of 50 state winners.
True to form, Reynolds felt awkward on the national stage.
“When I realized that there was an award out there that was meant to recognize a woman committed to athletics, academics, as well as community service, I was overwhelmed and wondered whether I was truly deserving of it,” she said. “Basically, I was excited to be considered on par with all of the other women I met that weekend, and I almost felt insufficient.”
Career highlight films of the 10 national finalists were also shown at the banquet, which was attended by each of the state honorees, their families, and their coaches.
“Members of the Cornell community have a knack for making me look good, usually better than I really am,” Reynolds commented about her highlight video.
This year’s winner was Tanisha Silas, the UC-Davis track star. The award has been given by the NCAA in each of the past 12 years. While no Ivy League athlete has ever won this award, five others have been named finalists, including Jennifer Cobb ’92.
Reynolds, the 2002 Cornell Daily Sun Athlete of the Year, had her greatest influence in women’s lacrosse. During her four years at Cornell, the Red improved from a mediocre 9-6 team in 1999 to last year’s 16-2 record-setting team which got to the Final Four. During the 2002 season, Reynolds set Cornell career records in points (204) and goals (144), as well as setting the single season marks in those categories with 74 and 57 respectively. She also led the team in ground balls (78) and draw controls (38), cementing her reputation as one of the best midfielders in the country.
“I think I take the most pride in having seen her develop over the years,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “I felt honored to have her on the team.”
To Reynolds, the feeling is mutual. She attributes her success to “a desire to help people and show my teachers that I have learned what they taught me. Whether they were teaching me how to catch a ball, add 2+2, smile, or laugh at myself, they were there to help me along the way, supporting me, and making sure I was having fun.”
She was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection for the third consecutive year. She was also a first-team All-American in 2002, the first Cornellian to be named an All-American during all four years. She was named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list and was a finalist for the Honda Award, given annually to the nation’s top women’s lacrosse player.
On the volleyball court, Reynolds was a starting setter and middle blocker, and places eighth on the Red’s career assists list (1,036) and 16th in blocks with 108.
The former biological and environmental engineering major was a member of the Red Key Athletic Honorary Society and was named a Verizon Academic All-American four times. In 2001, she received the Richie Moran Award, the highest honor awarded to a member of the Red Key Society. Reynolds is currently doing graduate work in biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester.
“She was a great example of the right way to do things. She was very dedicated to her academics and to her sports,” said Graap. “She always kept her priorities in order.”
The NCAA Women of the Year banquet will air on Dec. 3 on ESPN.
Archived article by Owen Bochner