About a month after winning her first state soccer championship at Blue Valley Southwest, Gracely Briley received another shock to the system.
Briley, a midfielder who scored 19 goals and had 11 assists during her sophomore season, was named Gatorade’s Kansas girls soccer player of the year last week.
She became the third player from a Blue Valley school chosen for the award in the last four years. Trinity Academy’s Maycee Bell won it last year.
Briley scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A title game in May, leading the BV Southwest Timberwolves (17-3-1) to their first girls soccer championship.
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“Oh, it's very humbling,” Briley said. “I compete with and against so many talented players, but above all it is such a blessing and honor to represent the Soccer Capital of America.”
Briley is committed to the University of Kansas, where she plans to begin her college career in the fall of 2019. She is the No. 114-rated recruit in the Class of 2019 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Hallie Klanke, a sophomore at Aquinas and another highly-touted area recruit, was named the Eastern Kansas League offensive player of the year, but Briley still received first-team league honors.
Briley is the first BV Southwest player to receive Gatorade’s Kansas girls soccer player of the year award.
“I can't say enough about (BV Southwest coach Jason Pendleton). Every time I step on the field I know he is going to push me to be the best I can be,” Briley said. “We were a very young team this year, so we really focused on doing the work daily and not getting down on each other. We constantly reminded one another, ‘OK, next play, we got this.’ All along our goal was to bring home a state championship.”
The last area player to win the award was Blue Valley North midfielder Parker Roberts in 2014 and 2015. She went to KU as a freshman before transferring to Florida for her sophomore season last fall.
Gatorade players of the year choose national or local youth sports organizations to receive a $1,000 grant. Briley selected Cleats Count, a nonprofit founded in January 2016 that delivers new cleats to underprivileged children around the world.