Aug. 1, 2017

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Atlantic Coast Conference has selected University of Notre Dame fencing graduate Lee Kiefer (’17) as one of two nominees for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Kiefer joins Duke’s Christina Gibbons (women’s soccer) as the conference’s two selections for award consideration.

Now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year program honors graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. From the group of conference nominees, the top 10 will be chosen from each NCAA division in September. The selection committee will then determine the top three from each division to make up the final nine finalists. The national winner will be announced during the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year awards event on Sunday, October 22, in Indianapolis.

Kiefer set a high standard both athletically and academically during her four years in South Bend. The Versailles, Kentucky, native became the first Notre Dame student-athlete to win four NCAA titles in the same event, and just the third collegiate fencer to accomplish the feat. She joins 18 other collegiate athletes who have won four national titles in the same event.

The current No. 3-ranked foilist in the world, Kiefer helped guide the Irish to their ninth NCAA Championship in 2017, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Fencer of the Year for Foil and claimed a spot on the All-ACC Academic Team.

Kiefer capped her Notre Dame career with a Byron V. Kanaley Award, which is given to senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as students and leaders. She graduated with a 3.67 grade point average with a science pre-professional degree and will attend medical school at the University of Kentucky.

For her most recent accomplishment, Kiefer helped lead the United States women’s foil team to its highest-ever finish at the FIE Senior World Championships last week, snaring silver as the tournament’s No. 3 seed. Kiefer played a crucial role in a quarterfinal victory over China, while her anchor bout against Russia helped the Americans secure a 45-42 upset victory in the semifinal.

Gibbons and Kiefer emerged as the ACC’s 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year candidates following a vote of the league’s 15 member schools.

NCAA member colleges and universities nominated 543 female student-athletes for 2017 Woman of the Year consideration – the most in program history. Of those nominees, 229 from are Division I schools, 117 from Division II and 197 from Division III. The nominees competed in 21 different women’s sports, and 122 were multi-sport athletes during their time in college.

The student-athletes moving forward as nominees of their respective conferences hold an average GPA of 3.88, and 49 participated in multiple sports at the collegiate level.

Former Notre Dame women’s soccer standout Elizabeth Tucker was named the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year.


Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.