Riley Honored at KU’s Annual Women’s Recognition Banquet
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Among many prestigious women in the KU community, Kansas volleyball alum Brianne Riley was honored at the annual Women’s Recognition Banquet, hosted by the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity at the University of Kansas Thursday evening inside the Kansas Union Ballroom.
The elite program inducted six new members to the KU Women’s Hall of Fame and honored one KU graduate with the Pioneer Woman award. Additionally, 15 women received annual awards designed for students, staff, faculty and alumnae who have enriched and improved the campus and community through their service, teaching for involvement. Riley was one such honoree, being named the “Outstanding Woman Student in Athletics.”
“What an amazing honor and the whole night was different than any other banquet that I’ve ever been a part of,” Riley said. “The coolest part was there were so many different people in the room – many of which I didn’t even know – but either volleyball fans or members of the whole KU legacy that came up to tell me how big of a fan they were of our team. They told me they were proud of us and that was a very cool feeling.”
A native of Naperville, Ill., Riley was joined by her family at the banquet that recognized impeccable female role models in the community, including the 2014 Pioneer Woman award, which was received by the Honorable Julie Robinson, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. The women’s recognition program is made possible not only by the Emily Taylor center, but also by the Commission of the Status of Women and the KU Office of Diversity & Equity.
“My mom and I were sitting there watching these women be introduced and were just in awe of them,” Riley said. “It’s great to know that through sports you can still influence a community. I’ve had kids come up to me and say that they are fans and even older women who think it’s great, the things we’re doing through athletics. Plus, as I go on into nursing school, it’s also cool to know that there is still so much I can do beyond athletics.”
Riley finished her career as a student-athlete as one of the most decorated and recognizable Kansas volleyball players. Head coach Ray Bechard regards the four-year starting libero as the best communicator that he has coached in his 16 years at Kansas, and admires her ability to rally players around her and act as a true leader. She broke the Jayhawk digs record in only three seasons. By her senior season, Riley became the only Jayhawk to break 2,000 career digs and her final 2,053 total ranks fourth all-time in the Big 12 Conference.
Her leadership helped the volleyball team reach unprecedented success as the Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time in program history in 2013.
Away from the floor, Riley is working toward a career in nursing. Her dedication shows as she is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and currently interns at OrthoKansas in Lawrence before she begins nursing school at Rush University in Chicago.
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