Helena Briggs was recently named the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association National Student-Athlete of the Year.
The Christendom College two-sport star is studying abroad in Rome, Italy, for the semester and stated in an e-mail that she was shocked when she found out she had won the award.
“To be honest, I had no idea that this award existed and I was completely surprised when I found out that I had received it,” Briggs stated. “It seemed as if everyone else knew about it before I did! I am incredibly honored to have been given this award because I am reminded of the hard work put into being an athlete while at the same time keeping on top of school.”
The emphasis of the award is on academics and community involvement. A committee comprising national office members, board members, and member athletic directors selects the award winner.
Briggs, a junior, stated that there were a lot of people who helped her get the award.
“This would not be possible if it weren’t for my understanding teachers and supportive family and friends who really keep me going, even when times are tough,” she stated. “I really feel like I do them honor by trying my hardest in developing and strengthening my gifts from God.”
While this is Briggs’ first Student-Athlete of the Year award, it is not her first award from the USCAA. She has been named to the USCAA Academic All-American team since her sophomore year of college. Along with a strong GPA, she is junior class president, serves on the student presidential advisory council, and has helped off-campus on mission trips.
Briggs stated that she tries to keep herself busy with as many extracurricular activities as she can.
“By having much to do, I learn how to balance and prioritize my commitments, focusing on the most important, namely my studies, and efficiently using my spare time in between classes, practices and work to do homework and train,” Briggs stated. “I know that by keeping to a schedule and setting aside time for myself to pray, I am able to stay on top of everything.”
On the court, Briggs played in seven women’s basketball games for the Crusaders this season and started in two of them.
She averaged 15.1 minutes per game and averaged 1.9 points and two rebounds per contest.
Briggs, from Fairfax, also played on the volleyball team this past season. The outside hitter finished the volleyball season with 36 kills, 28 service aces, and 185 digs.
“I actually believe that I do better in school when I am playing a sport because I’m forced to manage my time better and make the most of every minute I have to do homework, sleep, eat and practice,” Briggs stated. “However, the hard thing about playing basketball and volleyball is that I want to be training for and improving in both sports at all times, but it’s very difficult to do that while being involved in the community and staying on top of academics because I only have so much time.”
Briggs stated that Christendom offers a semester abroad program for juniors and that she has enjoyed it so far.
“I have been saving up my whole life in order to attend this program,” she stated. “It is a fantastic opportunity for us to engage in and become a part of a different culture, all the while learning about the ancient and beautiful city around us. I have loved taking classes right next to the Vatican, visiting countless churches, drinking cappuccinos and traveling to other countries on the spare weekends!”
Along with Briggs, other Christendom students were honored as student-athletes by the USCAA. Twenty-eight other athletes were named Academic All-Americans for achieving a 3.5 or above cumulative GPA, making Christendom one of the most-decorated schools in the country.
Briggs stated that she has enjoyed her first three years at Christendom and is very happy that she chose the school.
“I especially love getting to know everyone around me and forming friendships that I know can last a lifetime,” Briggs stated. “The people in my life help me keep working hard and having a good time by doing fun and exciting things almost all the time! Finally, I am grateful for the chance to play the sports that I love even with all the other obligations that I have because by them I’m able to glorify God and grow as an individual, teammate, and leader in a physical, mental and spiritual way.”