Two female athletes from the CAAC Blue were among the 14 announced on Monday who were selected to receive MHSAA Scholar-Athlete Awards in Class A.
Grace Kao of Okemos and Carly Hagan of East Lansing joined Eaton Rapids’ Bailey Baker, who was among the Class B award recipients announced last week. Each receives a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance, and will be honored publicly during halftime of the Class C boys basketball state final game on March 22 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
Others who were nominated from the Mid-Michigan area included Chris Kruger of Holt in Class A and Allie Grys of Portland and Angela Maurer of Williamston in Class B.
Kao competed in girls swimming and diving for four years and holds the Okemos record in the 100-yard backstroke as well as three league and four pool records. She helped the Chiefs to four league titles and served as captain last fall.
She earned all-state as part of two relays and finished 10th in the 100 back at the Division 2 state meet. She also earned academic all-state honors, was a National AP Scholar award recipient, and served as secretary of the National Honor Society.
She participated on the Science Olympiad team that qualified for the state tournament, earned highest or superior performance ratings playing the viola and piano, respectively, served as captain of ACTION Volunteer Club, started the Chieftain Champs mentoring program to assist elementary students, taught culture class for the Lansing Chinese School, and earned first place in Michigan Chinese Schools speech competition.
Kao will attend Carnegie Mellon University and study computer science.
“Grace has always been a dedicated young lady who set good goals and gave herself time to reach them,” Okemos swimming coach Patrick Saucedo said. “Grace is another exanple of how students can be good athlete as well as a student, and you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. She did a great job juggling high standards as a student with always being a contributor on our state meet squads. She’s a really good leader by example.”
In her essay, Kao said: “Sometimes we forget that everything is just a game. We get so buried in our thoughts of winning that we forget that at the end of the game, we are all just peers, and even friends. Everyone is playing for the fun of the sport and the feeling of accomplishment after all of the time and work put in.”
Hagan ran four years of varsity cross country at East Lansing and will play her third season of varsity soccer this spring. She also played varsity basketball as a junior and competes at a statewide level in figure skating. She qualified for state finals in cross country as both a freshman and sophomore and earned all-district recognition in soccer.
She served as sophomore and junior class president, currently student body president and as captain for multiple seasons in soccer and basketball. She earned the school’s Distinguished Scholar Award all four years and is in her third year in the National Honor Society. She has also participated in Young Life youth group four years and as a volunteer for the LINKS autism program, the Sparrow Foundation’s Women Working Wonders group and as a youth soccer coach.
Hagan will attend Michigan State University and study business and broadcast journalism.
“What’s amazing about Carly is the amount of different thing she does with her time and how she does them all so effectively,” said East Lansing girls soccer coach Jeff Lyon. “What’s also cool about Carly is the way she makes her teammates and anybody in school feel about becoming a part of our school community. She’s a very positive person.”
Hagan injured her knee during soccer season in the spring of 2012.
“She’s also a skater, and that was a setack for her, but she battled through it,” Lyon said. “I talked with the trainers, and the effort she put in her rehab was just as hard as what she puts into all of her activities.”
In her essay, Hagan said: “Sportsmanship to me is not the amount of medals you win or state championships you bring home. It is about being with your teammates, and knowing how to help them when they are down. Sportsmanship is about picking your friends up, and giving hugs and high fives, so you both succeed.”