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Summer Bales' Inspiring Journey to Becoming an NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 Honoree

UC San Diego

INDIANAPOLIS – Summer Bales of the University of California San Diego women’s soccer team has been recognized as an NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 honoree. Bales, who is UC San Diego’s first Top 30 selection since Anne Wethe in 2011, was recognized for her outstanding success on the pitch, in the classroom, in the community, and as a leader.

A 2019 graduate, Bales is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy. She reflected on the undergraduate journey that earned her a Top 30 nod.


Bales, whose mother is from Sudan and father is from the Midwest, earned a degree in international studies – political science along with an international migration studies minor. The discipline reflects Bales’ passion and was largely inspired by an experience that hit close to home.

“My international migration studies minor came after my junior year. It was right after the Muslim ban had happened,” Bales explained. “We were all at the airports protesting and it was the first time an immigration policy had affected me personally.

“I realized I was entering this conversation without being informed about it, so I needed to do more research. I needed to get involved. After everything was happening… that was my wake-up call.”


Bales stayed true to her desire to get involved, volunteering with the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization.

“I started as a volunteer at the front desk, answering questions about immigration processes,” Bales recalled. “Our office was mostly family based, so we got a lot of questions about bringing a family member over, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals, and citizenship. 

“After my senior year, I became an intern and I was helping people process their citizenship applications and DACA renewals, so that was really fun.”


While excelling in her classes and volunteering for the International Rescue Committee, Bales also balanced her successful Triton soccer career. She helped the team to back-to-back West Region crowns and four California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament titles, and also served as a team captain as a senior. Bales credits those around her for making it all possible.

“I think it took a big network of support, with my teammates, my coaches, my advisors, and my professors,” Bales said. “I talked with them about what my priorities were and what I wanted to do. They were so helpful in helping me balance everything. Being a part of our team where everyone is doing something outside of [soccer], together we really motivated each other to step it up on and off the field.”


Bales and the 29 other Woman of the Year honorees will be recognized at a banquet in Indianapolis from Oct. 19-20. 

“I don’t think I’ve entirely processed it yet,” Bales said about being selected as one of the Woman of the Year Top 30 recipients. “I’m really excited to go to Indianapolis to meet everyone else and hear their stories.”

At the banquet, the NCAA will announce the 2019 Woman of the Year. To learn more about the award, visit the NCAA Woman of the Year website here.


About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country.  The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference.  UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent.  A total of 82 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships.  In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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