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Valley Christian’s Wesley is Gatorade’s National Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Pictured (l-r) Kennedy Wesley with her coach Kim Looney. Wesley thanked her parents who decided that a Christian education was most important. Lebron James and Peyton Manning are among past winners. Wesley is considered to be the top recruit in the Class of 2019 and has verbally committed to Stanford University. She is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Women’s National Team and maintains a weighted grade point average of 4.02


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

The accolades continue to grow for Valley Christian High’s Kennedy Wesley and the latest one is the biggest one thus far. Wesley can now call herself the 2016-2017 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Wesley, who just completed her sophomore season, was previously named the Gatorade Player of the Year for California in girls soccer. Then, according to John Konecky of Gatorade, out of the nearly 400,000 high school girls soccer players in the country, it took over 1,000 hours to arrive on Wesley as the national winner.

“It was incredible, from the surprise this morning until everything leading up to this point,” Wesley said. “It’s been an amazing day. I ultimately couldn’t have asked for a better season this past year, not only as an individual, but as a team.”

The surprise Wesley is talking about came when Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist of the United States soccer team, handed her the trophy after doing a few soccer skills on the V.C. football pitch.

Wesley, who was the HMG-Community News Player of the Year, scored 22 goals and assisted on nine others for the Lady Crusaders this past spring, helping her team to a 24-3-3 record. V.C. also won the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 6 championship as well as the Southern California Division 5 title, marking the first time the school had won a state championship in girls soccer.

Since Gatorade started this program in 1985, over 170,000,000 teens have participated in competitive athletics across the country. In that span, Gatorade has awarded just over15,000 state player of the year winners and 304 National Player of the Year winners, 30 of whom were not seniors. Former state winners not to win National Player of the Year have been Deshaun Watson, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutcheon, Kris Bryant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose, to name a few.

“I didn’t even know this award existed, quite frankly for a while,” Wesley said. “It was definitely not what I expected, but, I was honored and I am really humble to get this award.”

“This has probably been a culmination of a season I could have never dreamed of,” said V.C. head coach Kim Looney. “When this came about a couple of weeks ago, [V.C. athletic director] Zac [Chan] and I didn’t really know how to react. We didn’t think, it was, honestly, a possibility when we nominated her.

“But for her to represent our high school at the national level…it still blows my mind,” she continued. “If I’m overwhelmed, I can only imagine how Kennedy feels.”

Looney said she was contacted by Gatorade day after V.C. won the state championship and was asked to nominated Wesley. Her parents, the school and Looney had to help out and it took about two weeks to put everything together before sending it to Gatorade. Gatorade recognizes winners from 12 sports and to win the National Player of the Year, you have to win the State Player of the Year award. In addition, Wesley is eligible to win Gatorade Athlete of the Year in July at the ESPY’s.

“It’s a cherry on top of the sundae,” Wesley said. “But I think ultimately, it’s motivation, not only for me to achieve more as an individual, but to develop as a player and as a person and help all the people that I encounter around me.”

“She is number one,” Looney said of Wesley being the best girls soccer player ever to wear a V.C. uniform. “When she came on her freshman year, she had the possibilities to be one of the greatest players that had been on the fields here at Valley Christian. You’re talking about Hayley Haagsma, you’re talking about Lynzi Bulick, Brittany Coulter, all those kids. And this season, she exceeded that. The reason she exceeded that is because she’s a 16-yeard old sophomore. It took Hayley her junior and senior year to get where Kennedy is now.

“Kennedy is a gentle spirit, but a competitive spirit,” Looney continued. “And to have those two attributes makes her who she is. It is honestly a privilege to have had her on my team the last couple of years.”

She also added that this is a testament to Wesley’s parents to decide that a Christian education was important to Wesley. Lebron James and Peyton Manning are among past winners and “winning this award is a big deal”, said Kelsey Rhoney of Gatorade.

According to TopDrawerSoccer.com, Wesley is considered to be the top recruit in the Class of 2019 and has verbally committed to Stanford University. She is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Women’s National Team and maintains a weighted grade point average of 4.02.