A woman from Anchorage, Alaska moved to a new city, to attend a school where she would have to make new friends and take new classes in 2012. As it turned out, all of that “new” wasn’t enough for her and she decided to try out a new sport as well.
Five years later, after graduating from the University of Portland with a degree in Biology, she is being nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award for a sport she never played until her freshman year of college.
Meet Molly Templin.
In high school, Templin earned four varsity letters in track, two for cross country running and one for volleyball. She grew up playing sports but came to UP as a normal student.
Going from being a three sport athlete in high school to playing no sports at college left Templin with a burning desire to compete again. She came to UP hoping to run track, but her numbers were not fast enough. Her desire was still strong, however, and her chances at college athletics were diminishing.
It looked as if she was going to have to give up on her athletic career, until she checked her email during the beginning of her freshman year. At that time she received an email from the rowing team, which at the time was in its second year as a varsity program at UP. The email was an invitation to try out for the team and just like that, the rowing team gave her a chance to compete again at a high level. Despite knowing nothing about the sport of rowing, she decided to try out for the team.
“I kind of just said, ‘Why not’ and joined the team,” Templin said. “I ended up loving it and stuck with it and ended up being better than I thought I’d be.”
Within two weeks after walking on to the team, Templin was asked to practice with the varsity boat.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Templin said. “It was terrifying for me at first, but by being thrown into the varsity boat, I was forced to get the hang of it faster.”
In Templin’s second year at the University of Portland, Pasha Spencer was hired as the head coach of the rowing team and the two had an instant connection both in the boat and out of it. To Templin, Spencer was more than just a coach; she was her motivation to finish faster, her teacher and the person that helped her become so successful at this new sport.
“Molly set that example of being the team leader,” Spencer said. “She was definitely someone people could look up to.”
Templin went from being brand new to being a leader of the team by the end of her college career. And now as her college and rowing career come to an end, she is nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.
This award is offered to one student-athlete for their athletic accomplishments, academic accomplishments and service. This year, there are 517 student-athletes nominated for this award. Two of those athletes, including Templin, are from the West Coast Conference, and only five of all athletes are rowers.
Andy Patton, who is the Assistant Director of Academic and Student-Athlete Development, was part of the team who nominated Templin for this award.
“We felt that Molly had the best chance of getting some serious recognition by combining all three of the requirements, academic and athletic achievement and service and leadership,” Patton said. “And by looking at what she had accomplished not just last year but over all four years of her collegiate career.”
In the first stage of the selection process, a committee will narrow the pool of athletes down from the original 517 nominees to just 30. After that, the list gets narrowed down even further to nine athletes. The nine finalists will be named in late September. Finally, from the list of nine finalists, the winner of the NCAA Woman of the Year award will be announced on Sunday, Oct. 16.
There is a four level grading scale to select the nominee. 30 percent of the total score is based on academic achievements, using a scale of one to five. For example, if the student-athlete finished that school year with a 3.9 GPA, she would receive a five for the academic achievement category. Next is athletic achievement, which is also 30 percent of the total score, and also uses a scale of one to five. The third 30 percent is based on service and leadership, which again, uses a scale of one to five. The last 10 percent is based off of a personal statement made by the nominee.
It’s unusual for someone to take up a new sport, like Templin did, and be so successful so quickly. But after four years of rowing, Templin proved to be key in developing the rowing program at UP and she has accolades that show her success in the water. She’s cracks the top 10 in five all-time rowing records at UP, including holding the record in the 2000 meters and 6000 meters rowing test. She was also 8th on the top 10 squat record in UP rowing history and 5th in the Loop Run, which is a 2.1 mile run.
Not only was Templin dedicated to her rowing and fitness, but she was also dedicated in the classroom, having the third highest GPA on a team where 48 percent of the athletes are on the Dean’s List. Templin nearly has a 4.0.
“I was super surprised to be nominated for this award,” Templin said. “I was so grateful to just be nominated along with so many talented athletes. I had no idea that I would have stood out this much as a student-athlete. I’m just so grateful.”
And the winner of the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year goes to…