Courtesy UCLA Athletics
UCLA Senior Kyla Ross, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and one of the most accomplished gymnasts in NCAA history, has been awarded the 2020 Honda Sport Award for gymnastics, as announced Wednesday by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA).
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 44 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies "the best of the best in collegiate athletics".
"I am honored to be receiving this prestigious award by Honda and the CWSA that shines a much-needed light on women’s athletics," said Ross. "Competing in collegiate sports has been such a fulfilling life experience for me. I sincerely thank UCLA for providing me not only the athletic but the academic opportunities that I will carry with me into anything I choose to pursue moving forward."
The 2020 and 2019 Pac-12 and Region Gymnast of the Year, Ross ranked No. 1 in the nation on uneven bars for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year and was also ranked No. 2 on balance beam, No. 3 in the all-around, No. 4 on floor exercise and No. 11 on vault in 2020. She earned the maximum five regular season All-America honors to bring her total to a new school record of 24. Ross went unbeaten in the all-around in 2020, winning all eight meets in which she competed all four events. In total, she earned 34 first-place finishes out of a possible 45 and hit all 37 routines during the season. She averaged over 9.9 on every event (9.908 on vault, 9.960 on bars, 9.923 on beam and 9.928 on floor) and 39.713 in the all-around. She scored two perfect 10s on uneven bars and one on vault, along with 10 9.975s.
Ross is also a finalist for the AAI Award for the nation’s top senior gymnast and the AAU James E. Sullivan Award for the nation’s top amateur athlete.
A standout off the floor as well, Ross is a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree and a Director’s Honor Roll recipient while studying Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology.
"I have never met an individual with more integrity than Kyla Ross," said UCLA head coach Chris Waller. "Whether she is training, competing, being a friend, being a student, or learning a TikTok, she does it whole-heartedly as if nothing else matters in the world. This appreciation for the present and enthusiasm for life brings light, inspiration and energy to everything she does and moves the world around her. While Kyla’s competitive spirit is literally second to none no matter what competition, challenge, or silly game is at hand, perhaps the most important value she holds is her regard for kindness, which she intentionally expresses enthusiastically and freely. Kyla has impacted the UCLA Gymnastics program in ways that will live on forever, and her example of how to live a thriving, full, well-rounded, and illuminated life is a beautiful example for us all. We will celebrate the Boss’s legacy at UCLA for decades to come."
Ross was chosen by a vote of administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Finalists included Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols, Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler and Florida’s Trinity Thomas. Ross is the seventh UCLA gymnast to win the Honda Award, as she joins previous winners Christine Peng-Peng Lee (2018), Kristen Maloney (2005), Onnie Willis (2003), Mohini Bhardwaj (2001), Jill Andrews (1990) and Sharon Shapiro (1981).
While there will be no Honda Cup winner this year, there are plans to honor the Honda Sport Award winners from the class of 2020 along with the class of 2021 in the 45th celebration of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards in 2021.
The CWSA, in its 44th year, honors the nation’s top NCAA women athletes recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.4 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.