Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan honored as NCAA Woman of the Year finalist

Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan '10 (second from left) was accompanied at the NCAA Woman of the Year award dinner by her mother, Darren Duncan (far left) and Director of Athletics Kevin McHugh (far right). They were joined by Carolyn Campbell-McGovern '83 (second from right), who works for the Ivy League and attended as an NCAA committee member.

INDIANAPOLIS -- She didn't win the big award, but Sunday night was very special all the same for both Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan '10 and her alma mater, Bates College, as the 2010 NCAA Woman of the Year award program concluded with an awards dinner. The award went to University of Arizona swimmer Justin Schluntz.

Duncan was one of 30 finalists present at the dinner, held at the Indiana Convention Center. She was accompanied by her mother, Darren Duncan, and Bates Director of Athletics Kevin McHugh.

To get to this point, Duncan, along with Anjuli Demers of Middlebury, was nominated by the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). The field was narrowed from 130 conference nominees to 30 finalists, including Duncan.

The NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. The award has been given annually since 1991.

"I feel very honored to represent Bates College and my home state of Maine," Duncan said afterward. "Bates was a place where there was no stop signs. I was able to run all the clubs on campus, be a choral musician, and run my own throwers' clinic at one time. I would like to thank the NESCAC -- because of their nomination, I met 27 other women who embody the true meaning of a student athlete."

McHugh said he felt duly privileged to be present for the event. He noted that sitting at the same table as the Bates party was a gymnast from the University of Georgia who won a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Athens.

"Knowing what I did about the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, I was already immensely proud of Vantiel and of her representing Bates," he said. "But being at the award ceremony and hearing all of finalists saluted for their athletic, academic and community service excellence reinforced how special Vantiel is. She has a rightful place amongst the brightest and most accomplished young ladies in all of intercollegiate sports."

A member of the Bobcats’ indoor and outdoor track & field teams for the past four years, Duncan is a six-time NCAA All-American and a seven-time All-NESCAC recipient. Duncan won the shot put for the third year in a row and added her first conference crown in the hammer throw at the 2010 NESCAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships on April 24, then claimed both events at the New England Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in May. Earlier this year, Duncan’s three-peat performance in winning both the shot and the weight throw at the New England Indoor Track & Field Championships earned her Regional Field Athlete of the Year from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). She went on to finish second in the weight throw and seventh in the shot put at the NCAA indoor championships. All told, Duncan has been honored as All-ECAC 11 times and All-New England on 10 occasions in addition to her All-America and All-NESCAC honors throughout her career.

Duncan was equally impressive in the classroom at Bates. She majored in politics with minors in Chinese and music and achieved a grade point average of 3.39. She was recognized as NESCAC All-Academic four out of a possible four times, was named to the USTFCCCA Women’s All-Academic Track & Field Team twice, and earned CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District I Second Team honors in both 2008 and 2010. Duncan was named Bates College's female athlete of the year in May.

Between her academic and athletic endeavors, Duncan somehow managed to find the time to also be a leader on her campus and in the local community. Duncan served as class president, was a member of the student affairs trustees’ committee, and participated in the the student organization review board over all four of her years at Bates. She also worked in a variety of offices on campus, including the registrar, student financial services, the office of advancement, admissions, and the athletics department. Duncan spun tunes at the student radio station; played in the Bates orchestra and was a member of the concert choir; tutored others in Chinese and music theory; and organized, promoted, and taught a two-day clinic for local youths on throwing techniques during her time in Lewiston. In 2009, Duncan worked for the office of Olympia Snowe, the senior U.S. Senator for Maine, and assisted U.S. Representative Arthur Davis’ campaign for governor in his home state of Alabama.