DURHAM, N.C. - Three-time NCAA Champion Becca Ward has been selected as the winner of the ACC's Mary Garber Award, earning the distinction as the conference's top female athlete of 2011-12 as voted on by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Ward claimed the 23rd Mary Garber Award alongside Boston College football player Luke Kuechly, who was named the Anthony J. McKevlin Award winner as the league's top male athlete. Ward is the first winner to earn her acclaim entirely for achievement in a sport outside of ACC championship certification and administration.
A native of Portland, Ore., Ward is the first three-time individual NCAA Champion in Duke athletics history, winning the 2009, 2011 and 2012 NCAA Women's Saber Championships. She is Duke's fourth recipient of the Mary Garber Award and the winner of Duke's sixth such award overall, joining a list that includes Vanessa Webb (women's tennis, 1998), Alana Beard (women's basketball, 2003 & 2004) and Lindsey Harding (women's basketball, 2007).
Also the first fencer in league history to win the award, Ward was a Capital One Academic All-America first team selection as a senior and graduated from Duke with a degree in public policy.
A bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Ward leaves Duke University as one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history. The Mary Garber Award is the latest in a number of accolades for Duke fencing's all-time wins leader, adding to a list that includes NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, ACC Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, two CoSIDA Academic All-District III citations and the honor of Duke Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
Ward finished her four-year Duke career with a 272-7 (.975) record, setting the program record for career wins and wins in a season. During her four years in Durham, she took the Duke fencing program to new heights, leading the Blue Devils to a 10th-place NCAA finish in 2010, ninth place in 2011 and ninth place again in 2012 for the program's first top-10 finishes. Additionally, the Duke women's fencing team set school wins records during her final three years and cracked the USFCA Coaches Poll Top-10 this season.
The McKevlin and Garber awards are given in memory of distinguished journalists from the region. McKevlin was a sports editor in Raleigh, N.C., and Garber, of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, was a pioneer as one of the first female sports journalists in the country.