PISCATAWAY, NJ – Former Rutgers track and cross country standout Julie Culley (Lebanon, NJ) has been named New Jersey’s 2004 NCAA Woman of the Year, the organization has announced.
Culley becomes the second consecutive former Rutgers athlete to earn this coveted honor as fencing standout Alexis Jemal (Westfield, NJ) was the 2003 recipient.
Culley, who was hired as head women’s track coach at Loyola College (MD) shortly after graduating from Rutgers this past May, achieved a host of athletic, academic and service/leadership accomplishments in her years at Rutgers.
A three-time Academic All-American, Culley was MVP of the track team in both 2002 and 2003 and earned cross country MVP accolades in 1999, 2000 and 2002. She holds the Rutgers school record in the 3,000-meter indoor run and the 5,000-meter outdoor run as well as in the distance medley relay. Culley also qualified for the NCAA Championships in both cross country and track.
A 2003-04 team captain, Culley was an NCAA Cross Country Championships participant in 2000, a 2002 NCAA Cross Country All-American, and a 2003 NCAA participant in the 3,000. Culley battled through a series of injuries throughout her Scarlet Knight career. On the eve of the 2003 cross country season, Cully suffered a painful back injury and then, while training for the outdoor season, she suffered a debilitating foot injury that eventually required surgery and sidelined her for several more weeks. She returned to compete in the NCAA Regionals, and at the Rutgers track and field banquet this past spring, she was the co-winner of the Courage Award, given annually to the student-athlete (s) “who, throughout her career, overcame significant adversity to contribute to her team at the championship level.”
A marketing/political science major, Culley earned the Athletic Director's Excellence Award and was an Academic All-American in 2000, 2002-2003, and Big East Academic All-Star in 2000 and 2002. A Dean’s list student six of 10 semesters, Culley was also the Aeropostale-Big East Scholar Athlete for Rutgers, an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship award winner, Golden Key National Honor Society, and Rutgers Political Science Honor Society member.
Her service and leadership honors include being a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2002-2004), and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business fraternity (2001-2004). She also donated her time to many community service projects including being dance marathon participant (2004), athlete/student mentoring program volunteer (2004), and Toy drive participant (2003), to name just a few.
“This acknowledgement of Julie is certainly well-deserved,” Rutgers Director of Athletics Robert E. Mulcahy stated. “She epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete, excelling both in the classroom and in athletics, while also giving generously of her time to the community. We are extremely proud of all that Julie has accomplished and for all of her hard work and dedication. We are extremely pleased that she has been honored by the NCAA in this way.”
The NCAA Woman-of-the-Year Award honors female student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics and community service. More than 340 student-athletes, who have exhausted their collegiate athletics eligibility, are nominated by their colleges and universities each year for this honor.
“It’s an honor to be picked for this award, especially since New Jersey has such a wealth of athletes in all sports at all schools,” Culley said. “This honor is truly special. I owe most of my success to my coaches at Rutgers, the support staff there and of course, my parents. For me it’s always been kind of an uphill battle with all of the injuries, but hopefully it will make me stronger as a person.”
A selection committee chooses the state winners, who represent each state and the District of Columbia, at a meeting in August. That same committee chooses 10 finalists from among the field of state winners, and those 10 finalists are announced Sept. 26. The Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses the Woman of the Year from among the top 10. The final NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at an awards dinner Nov. 1 in Indianapolis.