Abigail Newkirk of New Vienna received the 2021 Kathryn E. Little Award as outstanding senior female athlete of the year at Bluffton University. (Photo courtesy of Bluffton University Public Relations)
Abigail Newkirk of New Vienna received the 2021 Kathryn E. Little Award as outstanding senior female athlete of the year at Bluffton University. (Photo courtesy of Bluffton University Public Relations)
Bluffton University this week recognized a Fairfield graduate as the 2021 women's soccer athlete of the year.

Abigail Newkirk of New Vienna received the 2021 Kathryn E. Little Award as outstanding senior female athlete of the year.

Newkirk, a four-year letter winner for women's soccer, played in 54 games and was named an Academic All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree. Recruited as a forward, Newkirk transitioned to a defensive role for most of her Bluffton soccer career.

Off the field, Newkirk is president of Bluffton's chapter of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is an HCAC executive council member. She is a primary member of National DIII SAAC as well as the communications director, Special Olympics subcommittee head and DIII Committee for Women's Athletics (CWA) representative. At the 2020 NCAA convention, she represented DIII athletes from HCAC and North Coast Athletic Conference.

Newkirk also serves as the president of Bluffton's chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSHLA) and works as a fitness center supervisor, student ambassador and baseball program office assistant.

"Abby is a one-of-a-kind individual. She involves herself in so much both on the field and off the field, yet approaches everything with the utmost effort and determination. She is a leader and a true example of what it means to be a student-athlete," said Kevin Gregory, head women's soccer coach. "She's had a great impact on our campus community and will achieve great things in life."

The daughter of Seth and Annette Hawthorn and Joshua Newkirk, she is a speech-language pathology and audiology major.

Newkirk's award is named for Kathryn Little, who served in Bluffton's health, physical education and recreation department and in athletics from 1958-74. Little was a member of the first class inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame.