Finalists for the 2023-24 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award Announced
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Athletics announced Monday that Cameron Boyd (rowing), Reagan Cooper (volleyball), Zakiyah Franklin (women’s basketball), Kasey Hamilton (softball), Hanna Hawks (women’s golf), Avery Smith (soccer) and Elise Wehrmann (swim and dive) are the 2023-24 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award Finalists.
The Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award is presented to a senior female student-athlete who is a fierce competitor in the classroom and the field of play. She also must have played an integral role on her respective team while demonstrating strong character and leadership qualities.
Boyd is a rowing member who has shown academic excellence throughout her career. She has earned five academic awards, including Academic All-Big 12 Rookie and All-Big 12 First Team. With a 3.65 GPA, Boyd has earned the KU Achievement Academic Scholarship and was named a Scholar Athlete by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association in 2023. Last season, she led her team to a first-place finish at Central Oklahoma and a runner-up finish against Kansas State. In her freshman year, the Kansas rowing team named her the most improved freshman.
Cooper had a phenomenal season for the Kansas volleyball team, leading the Jayhawks with 3.86 kills and 4.17 points while hitting an impressive .346. She received recognition as AVCA Third Team All-American and AVCA Midwest All-Region. Cooper also secured a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team. Her collegiate career extended professionally as she was the No. 14 overall pick in the Pro Volleyball Federation Draft this year. Cooper obtained a 3.8 GPA at KU and is pursuing a Social Media Strategy Certification.
Franklin has been a dedicated starter in her super-senior year for the women’s basketball team. She has been recognized as First Team All-Big 12 (2022-23), All-Big 12 Honorable Mention (2021-22) and secured a spot on the Preseason All-Big 12 team three times. More individual accomplishments include being named to the WNIT All-Tournament team in 2023, earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors, and making the Big 12 All-Freshman Team after the 2019-2020 season. Franklin has also etched herself in the record books as she holds the record for minutes played, career games played and has top-10 positions in scoring and assists.
Hamilton leads the Kansas softball team from the pitching circle. Notable achievements include earning a spot on the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge All-Tournament Team, where she collected wins against Ole Miss and Cal State Fullerton. She led the Jayhawks in innings pitched and strikeouts in her first three seasons, as she finished 2023 with 130.2 innings pitched and 96 strikeouts. Hamilton also earned a spot on the All-Big 12 freshman team after the 2021 season. Off the field, Hamilton interned for the Athletic Department’s Marketing and Fan Engagement department and is a current member of SACC.
Hawks is a four-year member of the women’s golf team majoring in General Studies with aspirations for pediatric dentistry. Holding a 3.74 GPA, Hawks has been acknowledged for numerous academic awards, such as the WGCA Academic Scholar (2020-21) and has had the highest GPA throughout the athletic department for two years. Hawks aided the team in a fourth-place finish at the Ron Moore Invitational in Denver, Colorado, this season and was a part of the team’s success when they earned Top 20 rankings in the fall. Beyond the course, she has been a member of SAAC and initiates community service events with the team.
Smith is a member of the soccer team, majoring in Psychology and Exercise Science with a 3.62 GPA. Notable athletic achievements include an honorable mention on the TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week (on Sept. 20, 2022) and started in 17 games as a senior. Smith earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors twice (2021 & 2022) and made the College Sports Communicators Academic All-District Team in 2023. Outside of sports, she participates in extracurriculars, such as being a part of the Emerging Leaders Retreat and was honored with the “Jayhawker” Award at the Rock Chalk Choice awards in 2022.
Wehrmann is the team captain of the Swim & Dive team. She is majoring in Exercise Science and has consistently received Academic All-Big 12 recognition, starting with Rookie Team (2020-21). She has achieved Academic All-Big 12 First Team every year she has been eligible. In her junior year, she had two first-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and the Individual medley. Furthering her accolades, she earned the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement, the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor, and the Karen Dionne Award, which recognizes the most inspirational members on the team. Wehrmann also received the Crimson Climb Award from the Kansas Athletic Department.
Dr. Marlene Mawson came to the University of Kansas in 1968 as a full-time physical education instructor, with the added responsibility of initiating an intercollegiate women’s sports program under the umbrella of the KU Physical Education department. During her early tenure, Marlene coached four of the six original women’s sports teams: basketball, volleyball, softball and field hockey, on a budget of only $2,000. Her impact spread beyond the lucky women who received her coaching at the University of Kansas, as Mawson was elected Secretary and then President of the Kansas Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. She also served as the representative to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women for 10 years. Mawson was a professor and administrator at KU for 22 years. She was inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 for her contributions to women’s athletics.
The 2023-24 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award winner will be announced in conjunction with National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, February 7.