On the soccer field, Katie Cousins sees it all. But the junior at Jefferson Forest (Forest, Va.) never saw it coming today when she was named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year. U.S. Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger surprised Cousins in the school locker room in front of her teammates and coaches.
“My hands are still shaking,” said Cousins, 17, a Tennessee commit. “It’s overwhelming. I was never expecting this. It’s so cool I got picked for it.”
The 5-foot holding midfielder has scored nine goals and passed for six assists this season, leading the Cavaliers (19-1) to the Group 4A North, Conference 24 championship game, scheduled for May 30.A member of the U.S. Soccer Under-18 Women’s National Team and a 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of American Youth All-American selection for her club play with the Richmond Kickers, Cousins is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 by IMG Academy/TopDrawerSoccer.com
“Winning State Player of the Year inspired me to continue to be good at what I did,” said Krieger, who earned Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year honors in 2002-03 and played every minute for Team USA in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. “I said, ‘Wow, my dreams can come true.’ Now to hand out the award, I hope it’s inspiring and motivating to Katie.”
Cousins, 17, has maintained an A-minus average in the classroom and plans on graduating early from high school this December. A member of the varsity basketball team and a French horn musician in the school band, she has volunteered locally as part of fundraising campaigns to benefit the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center as well as cancer research. Also a student-leader in her school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, Cousins has participated in multiple-community service initiatives in association with the Hyland Heights Baptist Church youth group. She has also donated her time as a youth soccer coach.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Cousins is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Cousins becomes the 11th prep athlete from Virginia and the first girls soccer player player to win national Gatorade honors. She joins a distinguished list of national-winner alumni from the state, including former NFL running back Terry Kirby of Tabb (Tabb, Va.) and seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning of Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.), both of whom won in 1988, along with 2005 winner and current Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton of Great Bridge (Chesapeake, Va.), and the American record-holder in the mile, Alan Webb of South Lakes (Reston, Va.), who won in 2001.
Cousins also represents just the 24th non-senior to win Gatorade national honors across all sports among 266 total winners since 1985. California has produced the most national winners in the award program’s 29-year history with 61 followed by Texas (28), Florida (20) and Illinois (15).