DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Gators' Ehmann receives Wendy's Heisman honor

Photo op !!

As if Kinsey Ehmann needed prodding. The Xavier Prep senior was happy to grab the school’s Division I state soccer championship trophy from 2016 for a photo to accompany an article.

As for the article itself (this one), it details what Ehmann is all about, the fact that she helped the Gators win the soccer title as a goalkeeper and how she was part of a second-place relay team (4x800) and a third-place relay team (4x400) in last spring’s state track and field meet. She also competed in the individual 800 and 400.

Now comes another prestigious designation.

Ehmann recently was named the Arizona girls’ winner of the Wendy’s Heisman Award, which goes to a high school student who excels in athletics, academics (she has a 4.3 grade-point average), leadership and community service. The boys’ winner is Karsten Householder, a baseball player from Scottsdale Chaparral.

She will receive $1,000 to go toward college and be eligible for another $5,000 if she is selected as one of five national finalists. A $10,000 college bonus goes to the overall winner. Results of those will be announced in the coming weeks.

Wendy's Heisman winner Kinsey Ehmann takes time to do some weight lifting with last season's Xavier state championship soccer trophy (Photo by Don Ketchum).

The application process began shortly after the first of the new year in January, and the second phase of award chronology came in September. Ehmann knew she would be recognized for her school, and knew she might have a chance to become the state winner.

Still, it came as sort of a surprise when the award was announced a week or so ago.
She was in class when she received texts from her parents.

“Call us,’’ was the message.

It was the real deal. She was the award recipient for the entire state.

“I was so excited. It is such an honor,’’ Ehmann said. “It is the best feeling. I am so proud to be chosen and represent my school and my teammates in both sports.’’

It was kind of a dizzying pace. She had experience with being dizzy for real in soccer last season.

During warm-ups before a game late in the season, she went to dive after a teammate’s shot. It struck one of the posts and hit her in the back of the head.

“Like a laser,’’ she said.

She was forced to miss two games, and teammate Madeline Warren filled in admirably.

Xavier soccer coach Barb Chura couldn’t stop raving about Ehmann and what she means to the program.

“Kinsey is a perfectionist. She works as hard as anyone out there,’’ Chura said. “She is ultra-competitive and wants to win . . . She has been the starting goalkeeper since she has been here and has really matured over the years. This also is how she is in the classroom. Kinsey is extremely bright and strives for greatness and will continue her education at Pepperdine University (Malibu, Calif.) next year while playing soccer.

“I have watched Kinsey grow as a person and soccer player over the years and I could not be more proud of her . . . Whatever Kinsey decides to do, she will be a success.’’

Xavier track and field coach Dave Van Sickle is equally impressed.

“She is a fierce competitor, one of the best competitors I’ve ever worked with,’’ he said. “She is one tough kid.’’

Ehmann gave an oral commitment to Pepperdine in February and has visited the school.

She will begin by taking marketing and business courses, and once she graduates, she would like to attend law school, somewhere in the East.

Her early life was spent in the San Jose area, followed by a cross-country move to Massachusetts. Then came the move to Phoenix for her freshman year at XCP in the fall of 2014.

“I just love the atmosphere here at Xavier,’’ Ehmann said. “The “Women of Faith Pursuing Excellence’’ is the perfect title.’’

Between Xavier soccer practice, club soccer practice and homework to do when she returns home at around 9 p.m., it is a good indicator of how focused a student-athlete must be.

“If you work hard enough, it will pay off,’’ Ehmann said.

“I always want to be the best. I know that there’s somebody better than me out there and I need to keep working to reach that level.’’

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