COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 1, 2016) – Just 24 hours before departing for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, U.S. Women’s Sitting Team captain Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, North Carolina) received an unexpected surprise.
Erickson is a finalist for the 2016 Sportswoman of the Year Award by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Twenty women from 20 sports were selected as finalists in two categories – individual sports and team sports – based on their athletic achievements between Aug. 1, 2015 and Aug. 21, 2016. Erickson is one of two Paralympic nominees; Tatyana McFadden also was nominated for her performances at the 2016 Boston and London Marathons, as well as the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field trials.
Fans can vote an unlimited number of times until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 11. The winners will determined by both public vote (50 percent) and the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Awards Committee (50 percent).
Erickson was nominated for her performances at the 2016 World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup in March and the Dutch Tournament in July. At the Intercontinental Cup Erickson helped lead the U.S. Women to a gold medal finish with a 7-0 record, defeating host-nation and worldwide No. 1 China 3-1 in the gold medal match.
During the tournament Erickson totaled 80 kills, 13 blocks and 10 aces during the tournament, including 16-kill matches against China in the gold medal match and Ukraine. By comparison, Team USA’s non-Chinese opponents recorded a combined 72 kills. She also received Tournament MVP and “Best Spiker” honors.
At the Dutch Tournament in Assen, Netherlands, Erickson led the team in total blocks (17) and digs, adding 48 kills and seven aces as the U.S. finished 6-0, only dropping one set to China during the entire tournament.
“I’m honored to even be considered,” Erickson said. “It’s a little surprising, but awesome. It’s always nice to receive a kick-start booster like this before a competition.”
Erickson’s performance in China has garnered additional accolades this year. She and her teammates previously was nominated as the USA Team of the Month for their gold medal win in China. Erickson also was nominated for the Allianz Athlete of the Month for March 2016 by the International Paralympic Committee, followed by an ESPY nomination for “Best Female Athlete with a disability” earlier this summer.
On Friday, Sept. 2, Erickson and the U.S. Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team depart for the 2016 Paralympics. The U.S., ranked No. 2 worldwide and seeded third, is seeking the program’s first gold medal. Erickson is making her third Paralympic appearance following the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and 2012 Games in London.