Nicole Dennion '16 receives Wilma Rudolph Award

The courageous Phoenix soccer star is one of five recipients of this year's student-athlete achievement award by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics.

Nicole Dennion, winner of the 2016 Wilma Rudolph Award.
Elon University women’s soccer senior Nicole Dennion was one of five recipients of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award. The award honors student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic, and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Dennion received the award during the 2016 N4A Convention Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas, on June 11.

“On behalf of the N4A Board of Directors and membership, I would like to congratulate the five recipients of the 2016 N4A Wilma Rudolph Award,” stated N4A President Jean Boyd, senior associate athletics director for student-athlete development and performance at Arizona State. “Like Wilma Rudolph, they have overcome significant obstacles on their journey toward achievement. We applaud their spirit and tenacity as they not only serve as models for their peers, their campuses and their communities, but models for us all. We anticipate how they will continue to grow and have an impact on our world.”

Dennion was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that most often occurs in children and young adults, in February of 2014. Despite having her soccer career cut short, Dennion completed cancer treatments while still taking on a full course schedule. Dennion graduated in May with a degree in exercise science.

“I believe I was meant for this journey – I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma and I was born and raised in Ewing, N.J.,” Dennion said. “The chromosome mutation for Ewing’s happens on chromosome 22, my jersey number for Elon was No. 22. This may be a coincidence, but I believe it was a sign that I was meant for this journey and I can only hope that my story can bring inspiration to other people fighting battles of their own.”

Along with Dennion, this year’s recipients included Carl Appleton (Lewis and Clark College), Imani Boyette (University of Texas), Gaelin Elmore (University of Minnesota) and Bailey Wind (University of Tennessee).

About Wilma Rudolph

Born premature on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to become a gifted runner. Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome, and later worked as a teacher and track coach. She died of cancer in Tennessee in 1994.

About N4A

N4A, which has been in existence since 1975, is a diverse educational service and professional non-profit organization. Membership of N4A includes academic support and student services personnel who are committed to enhancing opportunities for academic, athletics and personal success for student-athletes. For more information on N4A, visit N4A is administered by NACDA, now in its 51st year, administers 16 professional associations, including seven for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics directors. For more information on NACDA, visit