Northwestern senior Andrea Filler is one of 30 candidates for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award for softball, which honors student-athletes who excel both on and off the field.
Northwestern softball has a long history of success with this award, earning top-10 finalists in 2007 (Garland Cooper), 2009 (Tammy Williams) and 2010 (Nicole Pauly). In addition, Adrienne Monka (2012), Emily Allard (2013) and Mari Majam (2014) have been named candidates for the honor. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.
In the classroom, Filler was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree last year in her only year of eligibility for the award. She already has graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor's degree in communications studies and currently is pursuing a master's degree in sports administration from the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.
In an effort to find her passion and future career in life, Filler pursued and secured several mini-internships in the marketing and communications departments in Northwestern Athletics last summer. Even prior to her transfer to Northwestern, Filler earned an Athletics Director's Award for Academic Achievement at Boston College, another prestigious academic institution.
In terms of character, Filler began her career at Boston College before sustaining a broken wrist early in her sophomore season. With the injury keeping her out for the year, she began to weigh her options and decided a change was needed.
Transferring can be a tough situation for any student-athlete, but Filler arrived in Evanston and immediately fit squarely in the center of the team culture. A second-baseman at BC, Filler played where the Wildcats needed her, be it at first base or as the designated player, before she won the starting shortstop position in 2015. Her commitment to doing what is necessary for the team shows in her statistics; she led the NCAA in sacrifice flies in 2015, employing situational hitting instead of me-first swinging.
In the community, Filler has played a large role in the continued success of Northwestern's R.O.A.R.R. program, an anti-bullying campaign founded by members of Northwestern Softball in 2013. The initiative takes student-athletes into area schools to address issues of bullying and to help students find areas they have in common.
Filler also has played a large role in Northwestern's piloting of the Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign, a joint venture between the National Dairy Council and the NFL. Northwestern is testing the initiative at the college level in local schools, and it soon will roll out to other universities in part because of the commitment of student-athletes like Filler. She also is a regular visitor to local schools just to visit physical education classes, something she did at Dewey Elementary in Evanston just last week before this nomination was written.
In competition, Filler has become NU's top all-around threat. She transferred to Northwestern prior to the 2014 season and immediately reached base in each of her first 11 plate appearances as a Wildcat before later tying the school record with base hits in eight-straight at-bats. She would end that season as a Big Ten All-Tournament Team choice and an NFCA All-Region selection.
In 2015, Filler finished among the top 25 in the nation in RBIs per game when she recorded 60 for the year, and she led the NCAA with nine sacrifice flies. Filler was named to the All-Big Ten and NFCA All-Region First Teams after batting .395 with 26 extra base hits and a .735 slugging percentage. Filler's defense at shortstop in 2015 also was exceptional and included a bases-loaded, game-ending walk-off diving catch of a line drive at Nebraska that made SportsCenter's Top 10.
Already in 2016, Filler is batting .563 and slugging 1.375 while driving in 13 runs in five games played (2.6 RBIs per game) through the first five games of the season.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2016 Women's College World Series®.
For more information on all the candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.
For more coverage of Northwestern softball, visit NUSports.com.