Charlotte, NC – Following a standout lacrosse career at Anne Arundel, Sofia Michael has been named the 2018 Betty Jo Graber Award winner. During Michael's two seasons as a Riverhawk, she led the team to back-to-back NJCAA National Tournament semi-final appearances.
Michael is the first Graber Award winner for Anne Arundel since its inception in 1992. Michael's list of on-field accolades also includes: two-time All-American, two-time NJCAA All-Region XX First Team, and two-time first team all-conference.
Beyond Michael's athletic success, she exemplifies the qualities of Betty Jo Graber through her excellence in the classroom. After graduating from Anne Arundel with a 3.44 GPA, Michael was named to the All-Academic Third Team in 2018.
Though Michael excelled both academically and athletically at Anne Arundel, it was her dedication to the team and personal resilience that set her apart the most. Unsure about continuing her lacrosse career after high school, Michael took a chance. She decided to attend Anne Arundel's women's lacrosse tryouts just one day before they began.
During the first few weeks of her freshman season, Michael gained more confidence in her skills and led her peers by example. She started to shine as one of the team's main points scorers. At the attack position, Michael ranked second in the nation in total points, second in assists, and third in goals at the end of the 2017 season.
Following her freshman season, Michael's dedication was undeniable. She attended every workout or team practice that was held. Entering her sophomore season, Michael was named a team captain and moved into the midfield position. In her new role, Michael emerged as a vocal leader and a complete well-rounded player.
Long-time Anne Arundel women's lacrosse coach, Jim Griffiths expressed his excitement about Michael's transformation. "Her growth as a player, person, teammate, and leader, from her first day of practice until today is astounding". She finished the 2018 season ranked fourth in the nation in total points and tallied 107 career goals. For the second time in two years, Anne Arundel reached the semi-finals of the National Tournament.
Michael is now attending NCAA Division II Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, where she is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Nursing. On an academic and athletic scholarship, Michael will compete for the Eagles' women's lacrosse team during their inaugural season in the spring of 2019.
Athletic Director Duane Herr feels fortunate that Anne Arundel could provide Michael an opportunity to reach the next level. "I feel privileged to be part of an experience that provided Sofia an opportunity to compete while ultimately earning a scholarship at the next level to conclude her college experience both academically and athletically."
Sofia Michael genuinely embodies the characteristics of Betty Jo Graber – dedication, service, and resilience – and what it means to be an NJCAA student-athlete. "I truly feel that Sofia represents what the mission of both AACC and the NJCAA is all about," Griffiths added. "In my opinion, she is a role model for junior college athletics."
About the NJCAA Betty Jo Graber Award
Betty Jo Graber was an influential leader in the Association and helped pioneer the creation of the Women's Division of the NJCAA in 1975. As the NJCAA Region 5 Women's Director, Graber chaired the Association's women's basketball committee from its inception in 1975 until her retirement in 1991. In addition to her contributions on the NJCAA Board of Directors, Graber helped establish the NJCAA Women's Basketball Coaches Association and was a member of its inaugural hall of fame class in 1998. Also, a member of the national Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Graber was a leader that exhibited dedication, service and resilience - traits that are recognized annually to the top female student-athlete with the award named in her honor.