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Webster native, Saint John Fisher College senior nominated for ‘NCAA Woman of the Year’ award

Kaili Saffran plays for the college’s women's tennis team

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Kaili Saffran (Photo Courtesy of St. John Fisher College)

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Kaili Saffran, a senior on the St. John Fisher College women's Division III tennis team and a Webster native, was nominated for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) “Woman of the Year” award.


In addition to being a mathematics and statistics major with a 3.81 grade-point average, Saffran was a three-year member of the women's tennis program that qualified for the Empire 8 Championship in each of the last three seasons. The college had a “historic first season,” according to a Fisher press release, in 2019 when, with Saffran in the lineup at first singles, the Cardinals went unbeaten in conference play on their way to their first-ever Empire 8 Championship due to their victory over Nazareth, 5-0, in the finale.


Fisher describes Saffran as the “most decorated player in the program's tenure” as a three-time First-Team All-Conference recipient in singles play. She came to claim three more All-Conference honors in doubles play. Over the course of her tennis career, Saffran was 28-3 in singles play, including a 10-0 mark in 2019. She added 22 more wins in doubles competition.


On top of it all, Saffran was named the Empire 8 “Rookie of the Year” in 2017, and capped off her senior season as the conference's “Player of the Year” this past fall.


Fisher was originally scheduled to compete in the Division III Championship in May; however, the championship was canceled due to the pandemic.


Saffran’s accolades also carried over to her academic performance. She was a member of the Empire 8 President's List in each year she competed, was named to the Dean List numerous times, and earned a Trustee Scholarship. Additionally, working with professors from Fisher's statistics and pharmacy programs in a meta-analysis, Saffran has had her work submitted for publication in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics. She also interned with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in Business Intelligence, participating in research projects of high importance.


Outside of sports and academia, Saffran participated in multiple charitable endeavors in college. For two years, she was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and she also participated in the Teddi Dance for Love. Since 2017, Saffran served as a Student-Athlete Mentor and participated in initiatives such as Strides Against Breast Cancer, the Out of Darkness Walk, and the Positively Pink Walk.


The NCAA “Woman of the Year” program honors the academic achievements, athletic excellence, community service, and leadership of outstanding female college athletes.


Rooted in Title IX, the NCAA “Woman of the Year” program is directed by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics, celebrating the accomplishments of female college athletes across all three NCAA divisions. Almost 220,000 women are competing in college sports in 2020. The NCAA received a record of 605 nominations for the “Woman of the Year” award.

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