Sep 182002
Authors: Lee Miller

Former CSU standout up for Woman of the Year

By Lee Miller

Angela Knopf was not the first to find out she was selected to represent the state of Colorado for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

“I didn’t even know about it at first,” said Knopf, who completed a very successful career with the CSU volleyball team last winter. “My roommate came home and showed me the story in the newspaper. I thought, ‘That’s so cool.'”

The NCAA announced the list of winners, one from each of the 50 states, at the beginning of the September. Since then the field for the national award has been narrowed down to 10, and Knopf is still in contention. A committee made up of athletic administrators from NCAA member colleges and universities selected the finalists from more than 340 entries.

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will select the 2002 NCAA Woman of the Year from among the 10 finalists. The national winner will be announced at an awards dinner Nov. 2 at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis.

Knopf came to CSU from Troutdale, Ore., in 1998. She was an immediate starter on the volleyball team and caused a lot of headaches for opposing teams at middle blocker. She was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year twice and is also a two-time first team All-American. She also holds school records at CSU in service aces (138), total blocks (630) and hitting percentage (.393).

Last season she helped lead the Rams to a 29-4 record, including an undefeated showing at home and a trip to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

“I hope people realize what an incredible honor this is to Angela,” said CSU head coach Tom Hilbert, who coached Knopf her entire four years at CSU and considers her the best player he has ever coached. “You’ve also got to take into account that this award recognizes a lot of other things outside of sports achievement.”

The NCAA committee also considers academic achievement and community involvement when selecting the recipients.

Knopf complimented her athletic achievement by earning third-team All-Academic honors in 2000 and was named to the second-team the following season. She took the semester off in the spring of 2002 in order to train with the U.S. National Volleyball team.

She is currently working on finishing her degree in teaching, and plans to graduate in December of 2003.

Knopf’s community efforts include helping at a food-bank organization, taking part in the organization of RamJam and speaking at a number of schools and churches. She has spoken to kids about topics such as unity and teamwork, motivation, competitiveness and her connection to God and her church.

Though she’s ineligible to play for CSU anymore, Knopf still participates in supporting the Rams.

“I still go to all the games,” she said. “They’re a really great bunch of girls and I’m proud of them.”

Knopf says she misses the team and all of the friendship it provides. She also misses the day-to-day competition.

She is, however, still finding ways to keep her skills in tact. This summer, Knopf and former CSU teammate Krista Swartzendruber competed in the Motherload Beach Volleyball Tournament held in Aspen. They entered the 16-team tournament seeded in last place and surprised many by winning it all.

Knopf also plays in her church league and enjoys helping younger girls hone their spiking skills.

Knopf will most likely leave CSU with her school records still standing, and whether or not she wins the national award, she will always be considered one of Colorado’s greatest athletes. She is grateful to the people around her for their part in her success.

“I’m proud to be a part of the CSU program,” she said. “Everyone from the athletic staff to my coaches and teammates has been great, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

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