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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (GoHeels.com) – North Carolina forward Kealia Ohai has been selected as the 2013 Senior CLASS Award® winner in NCAA® Division I women’s soccer.
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I women’s soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I women’s soccer. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, community, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
"I'm so honored to receive this award,” Ohai said. “I was grateful to be nominated in the first place and then be named as finalist as well. I'm extremely thankful to all the people who voted for me online as well as the coaches and media members who also cast ballots so I could receive this award.
“Playing at North Carolina has been an incredible experience. I am thankful for the teammates and the coaches I was able to be with the last four years as well as for all of Tar Heel soccer nation that has always supported our program. I know the list of UNC players who have been finalists for this award includes some of the greatest names in Carolina soccer history. To have been in that company and to join Ali Hawkins, one of the greatest leaders I've ever known, is completely humbling to me."
A journalism and mass communications major, Ohai is a member of North Carolina’s Women’s Soccer Leadership Council and is an active participant and veteran leader in the Carolina Leadership Academy program. She has been named to the Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll multiple times, was named All-ACC Academic three times and was on the University of North Carolina Dean’s list as well. She spent time with patients at the UNC Children’s Hospital and participated in the Share Your Holiday program.
"Anyone who has met Kealia is drawn to her extraordinary personality,” said North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance. “She has a wonderful balance of intelligence and humor. Basically she sparkles – on the field and off the field. I've never met anyone who disliked her and usually players of her caliber attract all kinds of jealousy. She's never attracted that because she is a wonderfully classy young woman. She has represented this university and our soccer program at a high level for four years and her receiving this award is a tremendous statement about what kind of person she is. On behalf of our soccer program, I'd like to thank all the fans, media members and coaches who cast ballots for Kealia."
The Draper, Utah, native was a four-year starter, a first-team All-America selection and semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy for the Tar Heels during her career. North Carolina, which finished the year 20-5 and ranked in the top five, won the NCAA Women’s College Cup® during Ohai’s junior season when she was named the offensive Most Valuable Player of the NCAA College Cup.
“Student-athletes put an incredible amount of time and effort into their sports to reach the highest level,” said Erik Miner, executive director for the Senior CLASS Award. “Kealia was able to participate in community service projects while still winning championships and competing on national teams.”