*Cover photo from @LHSAAsports on Twitter.
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CHICAGO (April 8, 2021) - In its 36th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Kelsey Major of St. Mary's Dominican High School as its 2020-21 Gatorade Louisiana Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Major is the first Gatorade Louisiana Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from St. Mary's Dominican High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Major as Louisiana's best high school girls cross country player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced in April, Major joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10, Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009- 10, Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Ill.).
The 5-foot-5-inch junior distance talent led Dominican to second place as a team at the LHSAA Class 5A State XC Championships this past season, breaking the tape to win the individual title with a time of 18:33.50 over the three-mile course-the fastest all-class clocking of the day. A three-time LTFCA All-State selection and named Outstanding Runner on the 2020 All-Metro Team, Major became the first Dominican girls competitor to break 18 minutes over three miles when she set a school record (17:48.37) in taking second at the St. Joseph's Academy Invitational, her only loss of the season. Also three-time Region 3 and District 9 champion, she rebounded from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in April of 2019 to finish second at the state championships as a sophomore.
Major is a three-year member of her school's Student Leadership Council, which collaborates with teachers and administrators to improve student life and provide classmates with ideas and solutions to enhance their learning experience. She is also a three-year member of the Spanish Club, Spanish Honor Society, National English Honor Society and National Honor Society. An active member of her St. Pius X church community, she donates her time mentoring youth soccer players with her club team. "Kelsey is an extremely motivated, and self-disciplined multisport athlete," said Casey Keiser, head coach at Mount Carmel Academy. "She is a person who consistently puts forth effort to maximize her talents. She is well respected by all of her opponents and shows good sportsmanship before and after each race."
Major has maintained a 4.67 weighted GPA in the classroom. She will begin her senior year of high school this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Major joins recent Gatorade Louisiana Girls Cross Country Players of the Year Annie Fink (2019-20, Runnels School), Mary Nusloch (2018-19, Academy of the Sacred Heart), Lauren Hendry (2017-18, St. Joseph's Academy), and Kirsten Landry (2016-17, Ascension Episcopal School), among the state's list of former award winners.
Through Gatorade's cause marketing platform "Play it Forward," Major has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Major is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners' grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners, and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.