Center Of It All: Ziemer Wins GNAC Female Athlete Of Year
Tera Ziemer led Western Washington to its second NCAA Division II women's soccer championship.
Tera Ziemer led Western Washington to its second NCAA Division II women's soccer championship.

Friday, June 16, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – After two seasons at Division I Texas A&M University, Tera Ziemer considered giving up soccer.

Ziemer had excelled in two seasons with the Aggies, starting 21 of 23 matches as a freshman. As a sophomore, Ziemer appeared in 21 of 22 matches but was seeing the field less and less for the perennial NCAA Championships participant.

Instead of hanging up the cleats, though, Ziemer hung up the maroon and white jersey and traded it for a navy and white kit at Western Washington. It ended up being the best decision Ziemer and the Vikings could have made as the creating midfielder led the team to its second NCAA Division II championship in December.

In honor of the effort to lead the program to the championship, Ziemer has been selected as the 2022-23 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Female Athlete of the Year.

“This past year, closing out my soccer career on such a high was more than I could have asked for,” Ziemer said. “My relationship with college soccer hasn’t always been the best. There were periods where I thought about quitting but coming to Western was the absolute best decision I could have made.”

Ziemer’s leadership of the WWU program was proof positive that the best player isn’t always the one scoring the goals but the one content enough to create and let their teammates shine. Starting all 25 matches in 2022, Ziemer recorded six goals and four assists. The six goals ranked sixth in the conference while the four assists tied for seventh.

But it was the ability to distribute and create in the midfield that made Ziemer such a threat. The team’s 46 goals led the conference and ranked 26th among Division II teams while the program’s 132 points (46 goals, 40 assists) ranked 24th in Division II.

Two of Ziemer’s goals, however, came in the postseason. Ziemer scored the final goal in the Vikings’ 3-1 Division II quarterfinals victory over Colorado Mines on Nov. 19 in Bellingham, which clinched the team’s spot in the Division II Fall Festival in Seattle. The second goal came on December 3, hitting the opening tally in the 2-1 Division II championship victory over West Chester in front of a partisan crowd at Interbay Stadium.

While conference coaches chose a scorer over the creator in selecting the GNAC Player of the Year, Ziemer received their fair share of accolades. Picking up a second straight unanimous First Team All-GNAC selection, Ziemer was a consensus First Team All-West Region selection by both the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) and the United Soccer Coaches.

Thanks to their performance in the postseason, and particularly in the NCAA Division II Championships in Seattle, Ziemer was selected as a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and as the United Soccer Coaches Division II Player of the Year. One of four WWU players named to the All-Tournament Team, Ziemer was also named as the soccer finalist for the Division II Honda Athlete of the Year as presented by the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards.

Among academic accolades, Ziemer was named to both the GNAC All-Academic Team and the College Sports Communications Academic All-District Women’s Soccer Team. Both Ziemer and teammate Claire Henninger were selected as Scholar All-Americans by the United Soccer Coaches.

While Ziemer is grateful for the individual awards, from the all-conference honors to the national recognition, they pale in comparison to the championship ring that the Vikings will receive soon. While individuals make the team move, they don’t succeed if they don’t play together.

“It’s super cool to win individual awards and I am definitely honored, but honestly, at the end of the day, the coolest thing I can ever say I’ve ever done is win a national championship with amazing teammates that I respect, love and genuinely want the best for,” Ziemer said.

Ziemer graduated from Western Washington last week with a degree in environmental studies.

Ziemer was one of the three Division II players of the year to be nominated for the GNAC Female Athlete of the Year award. Joining Ziemer on that list was Alaska Anchorage senior Eve Stephens, who was named the 2022 Ron Lenz/D2CCA Volleyball Player of the Year, and Central Washington senior Samantha Bowman, who was voted the 2023 Ron Lenz/D2CCA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year.

The GNAC Athlete and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards are nominated by and voted upon by the conference’s athletic directors.

Other nominees for the 2022-23 GNAC Female Athlete of the Year Award included Alaska sophomore Kendall Kramer (cross country), Cal Poly Humboldt senior Dana Foley (rowing), Central Oklahoma senior Danielle Holle (rowing), Montana State Billings junior Marin Penney (softball), Northwest Nazarene senior Maia McNicoll (softball), Seattle Pacific senior Vanessa Aniteye (track and field), Simon Fraser sophomore Marie-Éloïse Leclair (track and field) and Western Oregon senior Jenelle Hurley (track and field).

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