Smolinski becomes the first Springfield College female to earn the award since women’s cross country and track’s Barbara Swallow and field hockey’s Abby Perham each won the award in 2000.
Among the 29 female athletes selected, Smolinski was the one of seven volleyball student-athletes from across the nation to be honored. Candidates who excel academically and athletically are nominated by the school's faculty athletics representative and screened by regional selection committees. Recipients are then selected by the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee.
Earlier this season, Smolinski was chosen as the Capital One Academic All-American® of the Year for Division III Women’s Volleyball, an award which is indicative of the top player in the nation, in terms of both athletic and academic accomplishment. She is a three-time New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Academic All-Conference honoree, a two-time Capital One Academic All-District® choice, and followed up last year’s Capital One/CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-America® selection with First Team Academic All-America® honors this season.
During her time at Springfield College, Smolinski has led the Pride to unprecedented success for the program on the national level. Springfield has made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Division III Championship, and won NEWMAC Championships in both 2011 and 2013. A four-time NEWMAC All-Conference honoree, including three-first team selections, Smolinski capped off her career by earning NEWMAC Athlete of the Year honors this season. In addition, she became the first player in the program’s Division III history and just the second player overall to repeat as an AVCA All-American after receiving second-team accolades the past two campaigns.
Smolinski was previously recognized on a national level for her success both on and off the court when the Pride advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship Elite Eight in 2011 in St. Louis. While there, she was given the prestigious NCAA Elite 89 award, which is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.
In her four seasons in Maroon and White, Smolinski led Springfield to a 118-22 record, totaling 1,556 kills and 1,355 digs, both of which totals rank in the top five in program history.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tessa because she epitomizes the Division III philosophy. She's the perfect example of a Springfield College student-athlete, as she represents all that we stress; the importance of excellence on the court and in the classroom,” said Springfield College head women’s volleyball coach Moira Long. “She truly is the gold standard when it comes to Division III athletics."
After graduation, Smolinski will pursue her doctorate degree as she looks to further her education, focusing on audiology.