UNF athlete Mahalia White honored with inspiration award

Volleyball player has beaten Stage 4 cancer, overcome torn ACL in her career

UNF volleyball player Mahalia White dives for a dig during a match last season. (UNF Ospreys Athletics, UNF)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mahalia White’s story of overcoming Stage 4 cancer and turning that into a remarkable career at the University of North Florida is not only an inspiration but it’s now an award winner.

White, a grad student and volleyball player at UNF, was selected as the winner of the Honda Cup Award. The Honda Cup is presented by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards and given to an athlete who has overcome “extraordinary trial” during their career.

White’s story is certainly inspirational.

She was the Big West Freshman of the Year at UC Davis in 2017. After that debut season, White was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018. She missed the entire year while undergoing treatment for that disease. White returned to the court the following season and made the All-Big West Team.

After her cancer fight, White tore her ACL in 2021 and missed that season. White went on to graduate from UC Davis and transferred to UNF. On the court with the Ospreys, White was a second-team All-ASUN selection in 2022. She finished her redshirt junior season with 393 kills, leading the team in that category as well as kills and points per set.

White will be presented with the award on June 26 in Los Angeles. Among the other finalists were Denver women’s gymnastics’ Lynnzee Brown and Harvard women’s lacrosse’s Grace Taylor. The award has been presented for 35 years and honors a female athlete in NCAA Division I, II or III who has overcome adversity in their college career.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.