Naperville Sports Weekly Awards Show 2024 Female Athlete of the Year

Donate Today Buy This Video

The Naperville Sports Weekly Female Athlete of the Year Award showcases five local athletes from five different schools. The winner is determined by voting from our staff.

Patrick Codo gives us the nominees for the Naperville Sports Weekly Female Athlete of the Year sponsored by BMO.

Naperville Central’s Liv Phillips 

Our first Female Athlete of the Year nominee goes to a two-sport athlete from Naperville Central in Liv Phillips, a vital member of the girls cross country and track and field program. Phillps was a dominant force from her first race in Redhawk country, by leaving her opponents in the dust. This season she took her running skills to another level by capturing the DVC, regional, and sectional cross-country crown. At the 3A state cross country meet at Detweiler Park, Phillips ended her high school career as the runner-up medalist and helped the Redhawks to a top-ten finish.

On the track, the results were just as impressive. She was the DVC and sectional champion in both the 3200 and 1600 meters. At the IHSA state meet to end her career, she added two more top-five state medals, finishing as the runner-up in the 3200, and in 5th place in the 1600. A memorable day for Naperville Central girls track and field as teammate Brooke Sawatsky won the long jump state title. After a great four-year varsity run at the high school level, Phillips will continue her next lap at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall.

Benet Academy’s Shannon Earley

Next up is another two-sport athlete, Shannon Earley, who competed for the Benet Academy girls basketball and lacrosse team and is no stranger to the NSW Award show. After a two-year break from the hardwood, Earley helped the Redwing ballers off the bench to another regional championship, using her speed and size as a defensive stopper.

But it was on the lacrosse pitch where Earley has been a superstar since she walked into the doors at Benet Academy. In Earley’s senior campaign, she lead the Wings with 111 goals to go along with 35 assists, culminating in another 1st team All-State selection, and ESCC Player of the Year award. Earley also helped Benet Academy to its first state championship game appearance and a 23-3 record. The Wings fell in the IHSA championship game to Loyola, but Earley’s lacrosse career is not done yet as she will compete for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next season. 

Waubonsie Valley’s Hannah Laub

Let’s go to the basketball court and softball pitch, with Waubonsie Valley four-year varsity standout Hannah Laub. It was a tough road on and off the field for Laub with a 1-13 record on the hardwood as a freshman and an ACL tear robbing her of large chunks of her sophomore softball and junior basketball seasons. But her final year in green and gold was one to remember, with the basketball team having historic success with Laub playing a starting role. Laub averaged 12 points, five boards, almost two steals, and one and a half blocks per game as the Warriors set a new school record with 32 wins to go along with DVC, regional, sectional, super-sectional championships and a fourth-place finish at State. Laub also earned an All-conference and IBCA Class 4A All-State special mention.

On the softball diamond, she finished her career with an elite performance, batting .551, with 19 dingers and 49 RBI. She earned the DVC Hitter of the Year and is a surefire All-State selection. That played a major part in the Waubonsie Valley softball team showing impressive improvement, going from four wins in 2023 to 16 this spring. Her softball career is over but will take her basketball talents to Army West Point next season. 

Neuqua Valley’s Zawadi Brown 

Zawadi Brown has always taken the term two-sport athlete to the next level, competing in two varsity sports in the same season over the past three years. The senior was either scoring goals for the Neuqua Valley girls lacrosse or setting new personal bests with the girls track and field team. She was an All-DVC and All-sectional selection for the lacrosse team with the Wildcats this spring.

On the track, Brown was able to outrun the competition time and time again. She was a DVC champion in the indoor championships in the 200, 400 and the 4×200 meter relay. During the outdoor portion of the season, Brown won the sectional title in the 100 and 200 meter dash and the 4 by 200-meter relay. She ended her decorated career with three state medals at Eastern Illinois, fourth place in the 4 by 200 and the 100 meters and a state championship in the 200 meters. After one of the greatest athletic careers Neuqua Valley has ever seen, Zawadi Brown will continue to use her speed on the lacrosse pitch at Vanderbilt University next season.

Naperville North’s Kelsey Wessel 

Last but certainly not least is Naperville North girls water polo standout Kelsey Wessel. The senior led the Huskies in scoring with an incredible 140 goals, to go with 60 assists resulting in another DVC and sectional championship for the program. She helped the Huskies bring home a fourth-place state trophy following a 32-3 season. Her performance in the pool earned her a first-team All-State selection and the Illinois Girls Water Polo Player of the Year award. While her water polo career has come to a close, Wessel left an incredible legacy with one of the elite programs in Illinois water polo history.

Hannah Laub wins the Naperville Sports Weekly Female Athlete of the Year award

The Female Athlete of the Year goes to Hannah Laub of Waubonsie Valley! She’s dominated on both the hardwood and on the base paths since her freshman season.

For more prep sports content, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page!