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JF's Katie Cousins named Gatorade National Player of the Year

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By Mike Forster

    Bedford County lays claim to being the best in several areas.

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    The county seat proclaims itself to be “The World’s Best Little Town.” 
    Many feel the Peaks of Otter are the most scenic mountains in Virginia.
    Olde Liberty Station has one of the best cheesecakes you’ll ever sample.
    Add to that list:  The best high school girls soccer player in the nation.
    That’s right, little old Bedford  County  has the best player.  We’re not talking in a district or conference.  We’re not even talking about the state.  We’re talking about the entire U.S. of A.
    The young lady to be so acclaimed is Jefferson Forest’s Katie Cousins.
    The ones deeming her America’s best are the good folks at Gatorade.  And, they should know:  They’ve been doing this for a long time.
    Cousins was informed of her selection during a surprise assembly on Thursday morning at the school.  There, she was presented with the award by Ali Krieger.
    A member of the NWSA’s Washington Spirit as well as the United States National Team, Krieger was Gatorade’s Virginia player of the year in 2003.
    “It was exciting for me to be able to surprise Katie with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award because she is such a deserving winner,” said Krieger. “Katie is a well-rounded individual who has already accomplished so much on and off the field, so it’s an honor for me to welcome her into the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year family.”
    “I was told we had a team breakfast and we were to go to assembly,” said Cousins.  “And there it was.  It was very shocking.”
    Even more shocking was when Cousins realized the magnitude of the award.  “I thought it was the Virginia Player of the Year.”
    Nope.  It was the whole enchilada.
    “Only one percent of players even pop up on our radar,” said Eric Snider, of USA Today, who was involved in the selection process.  “Only one-tenth of those even get our consideration.”
    What it all means is, that of the more than 400,000 active high school players in the United States, Cousins came out number one.
    She joins the ranks of Gatorade Players of the Year, which includes such luminaries as LeBron James (basketball), Peyton Manning (football) and Lisa Leslie (basketball).
    Cousins is a rising senior at Jefferson Forest, but plans to graduate after the fall semester.
    At that point, she’ll head to Tennessee to play for the Lady Vols.
    According to Alli Novak, of the Gatorade Player of the Year Program, “The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.”
    A First Team All-Region III player as a freshman in 2012, Cousins did not play high school soccer as a sophomore, due to commitments associated with her being on the U.S. National team.
    This year, however, she has managed to play the vast majority of the Lady Cavs’ games, as they’ve posted a near-perfect record in advancing to the 4A-North regional tournament this week.
    A club Youth All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Cousins is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
    “She lives and breathes soccer,” said JF Head Coach Stan Golon.  “It makes her up fully.  Very few get to walk her path.  As a team, we thank her.”
    Cousins also learned she’d get something extra from Gatorade.  She’ll attend this year’s ESPY ceremony, walking the red carpet, along with National Players of the Year from the  other sports.
    There, she’ll continue to be among the best.