It was an up-and-down spring for Boulder native and Fairview graduate Adee Weller. With the anticipation of post-graduate school on the horizon, Weller shared in the sadness of many by not being able to walk the commencement stage and receive her degree from the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
But her career as a swimmer, which took off during her days with the Knights and extended to UNCA’s Justice Pool for four years, brought many opportunities for Weller to express her versatility in competition and in the classroom. Needless to say, she excelled in both.
While swimming will turn more recreational, Weller’s goals of becoming a university professor clearly show the importance of academics in her life. Her sparkling 4.0 grade-point average at UNCA served as evidence in the regard, too.
Recently, Weller became the first student-athlete from UNCA since 2005-06 to earn the Big South Conference’s George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence. The Christenberry Award honors just a handful of the thousands of student-athletes that dot rosters among all the Big South’s scholarship sports, and Weller was the first person from the swim and dive team to win the award.
This year, just 12 male and female student-athletes were announced as recipients.
“It was something I never expected to win, just there’s so many outstanding athletes not only at UNCA but throughout the conference, and to me, it was just surprising to be nominated,” Weller said recently. “To win this award on top of (the season going well) … it was an honor to be considered.”
The same day Weller found out she had won the Christenberry Award, she was also informed that UNCA had nominated her for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year — a national honor awarded since 1991. A few hundred women are nominated every year — in 2019 there were 585 total candidates across all three divisions of NCAA athletics.
The Big South Conference will play a big role in Weller’s continuation as a candidate, while a Top 30 (10 women from each NCAA division) will be considered as semifinalists in September. The Woman of the Year will be announced on Nov. 1.
As much as academics play a role in the Woman of the Year award, so too does athletic achievements. Weller placed 29th overall at the 2019 NCAA Open Water Championships, a 5,000-meter race held in Lawrence, Kansas, on Sept. 14. She holds top-three school best times in every freestyle swim, and she is part of four school-record relay teams.
“I was pretty much absolutely speechless, and I went through and read some of the bios of the people who had won this award in the past and there’s just such phenomonal women (on the list),” Weller said. “It’s really incredible.”
Weller will continue her education at Emory University in Atlanta this fall.