The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) announced Jan. 3 that former Luther College softball player Kelsey (Kittleson) Millonig (St. Ansgar, Iowa / St. Ansgar) has been named the Duane Schroeder IIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 academic year.
"Exceptional student-athletes make the Iowa Conference exceptional,” said Iowa Conference Commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen. “Once again, we had an incredible list of candidates for our conference's most prestigious honor. Luther’s Kelsey (Kittleson) Millonig and Dubuque’s Michael Zweifel who was named the Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earned the vote of our Faculty Athletics Representatives after careers that saw them shine not just within the league and regionally, but nationally as well. It's hard to imagine a duo from the same league with the kind of impact Kelsey and Michael had, and we are in awe of their accomplishments."
Millonig graduated summa cum laude in May 2012 after posting a 4.00 grade point average while majoring in biology. She was named to the dean’s list in seven of eight semesters, earning induction into Phi Beta Kappa as a senior as well as an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
Additionally, Millonig was a two-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, being named the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for College Division softball in 2011 and Division III softball in 2012. She was also a three-time recipient of the NCAA Elite 88/89 Award, presented to the participant with the highest grade-point average at an NCAA Championship finals site, and holds the distinction of being the first individual to receive the award three times in the same sport. She was named an NFCA Scholar-Athlete four times and was a three-time honoree on the Iowa Conference All-Academic Team.
Millonig was the Iowa Conference's nominee for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, finishing as a national finalist and one of the top three nominees in NCAA Division III. She is currently working as an emergency medical technician in Cresco, Iowa and will begin the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine program at Des Moines University in the fall.
“I was impressed by Kelsey’s insightfulness and mental quickness as a student,” noted Luther College Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the College and Professor of Biology Kevin Kraus. “Kelsey has a cheerful personality and a can-do attitude; she would be a good member of any team. One of her chief strengths is her ability to communicate; she asks good questions, listens attentively and is responsive to the needs of others. I haven’t met many young students who were so aware of others—their strengths, their needs, their moods, etc. Whether it was in a lab group, a study group or on the softball team, for Kelsey it’s never been all about her; it’s been about the group or the team and trying to get it to achieve and excel.”
During her time at Luther, Millonig was a Luther College Regents Scholar and a member of Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society. A team captain during her final two seasons as a member of the Norse softball team, she also represented the softball team on Luther’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and with Luther Athletes Serving Others. Millonig was also a four-year member of both the Health Science Club and Student Support Services, serving as HSC secretary her senior year and a SSS tutor and note-taker from 2010-12.
In addition to various college and team service activities, she was a weekly volunteer with the Winneshiek Medical Center Nutrition Department assisting with nutrition education for patients, while also serving as an adaptive physical education assistant for a semester. She also worked as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2008 and, in 2010, spent 10 days on a medical mission to Ometepe, Nicaragua, providing clinical care to the impoverished community.
On the softball field, Millonig was a two-time first-team all-Iowa Conference selection that played on Luther softball teams that won two Iowa Conference titles (2011-12), two IIAC Tournament titles (2010, 2011) and participated in four NCAA Regionals, winning three (2010, 2011, 2012) to advance to the NCAA Division III Championship finals. She was also a two-time all-region selection (2011-second team, 2012-first team) and a 2012 NFCA Division III Second Team All-American.
Millonig, who was a utility player as a freshman and started a first base as sophomore and at catcher as a junior and senior, concluded her career ranking third in Norse softball history in putouts (868) and fielding percentage (.990), fourth in batting average (.378), fifth in RBI (126), sixth in hits (160), seventh in home runs (20) and 10th in at-bats (423).
In addition to these accomplishments, she was also a three time letter-winner and was named the Luther softball program’s “Breakout Player of the Year” in 2010 and “Defensive Player of the Year” in 2011 and 2012.
“From the first day she joined our team, Kelsey gave herself fully to the development of her teammates and herself,” added two-time Iowa Conference Coach of the Year Renae Hartl. “She earned the full respect of the coaching staff and her peers immediately. She is a unique spirit and natural leader that truly served her college, team, colleagues, family, and friends. She never ceased to amaze me with her organizational skills and her abilities to maintain order among her academic, social and athletic experience. She worked ahead in all her responsibilities and was on top of every circumstance which she encountered. I found Kelsey to be a very capable, well-adjusted, assertive and personable individual; she responded well to supervision, maintained a healthy, appropriate sense of humor and coped well under stress. She took initiative as necessary, and did not shy away from a challenging task. She has a very high level of personal integrity and responsibility that cannot be measured.”
With this announcement, Millonig becomes the fifth Luther student-athlete to be awarded this prestigious honor since the inception of this award in 2000-01. Previous IIAC Scholar-Athletes include Johanna Olson (2000-01), cross country and track, Garrett South (2004-05), wrestling, Adam Bohach (2006-07), cross country and track, and Alec Bonander (2008-09) wrestling.
Also nominated for the 2011-12 Duane Schroeder IIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year were former Central College basketball player and golfer Sarah Paulson (Ottumwa, Iowa / Ottumwa), former Coe College cross country and track and field athlete Keelie Finnel (Francis Creek, Wis. / Mishicot), former Loras College track and field athlete Meggen Elsen (Nekoosa, Wis. / Nekoosa) and former Wartburg College track and field athlete Sarah Hoffmann (Farley, Iowa / Western Dubuque).
Millonig, a 2008 graduate of St. Ansgar High School, is the daughter of Barry and Pam Kittleson of St. Ansgar, Iowa. She is married to Jharred Millonig and resides in Grafton, Iowa.