Throughout the 2016-17 school year, The Sentinel named its postseason Players of the Year for each sport.
Beginning last summer, we decided to give the readers a say, too, putting our entire list of Players of the Year up to a fan vote to determine our Athlete of the Year.
This year, just like last year, the girls winner is Cumberland Valley senior lacrosse player Sophia Thomas, who again starred in net for the Eagles in their Mid-Penn championship campaign that included a PIAA berth.
We connected with Thomas, who received 729 votes to edge West Perry volleyball’s Gracie Stauffer (637) and others, for a Q&A about her victory in the polls and her lacrosse success.
Thomas notched her coveted 500th career save this season. She was a Brine National High School All American from 2014-16 and a U.S. Lacrosse All-American in 2017. She was named a captain for the team her senior year and was a Mid-Penn champion in 2015 and 2017.
Q: You’ve been named The Sentinel’s Girls Athlete of the Year. How does it feel and who would you like to thank for the honor?
A: Being named Athlete of the Year is a great feeling and to be named a second year in a row is a bigger honor! Each of the sports have very talented players that were nominated. I know the level of commitment it takes to reach this level in our respective sports. I would like to thank The Sentinel for this opportunity and my CV teammates for always having faith in me both on and off the field. I would also like to thank my Arizona State University coaches and teammates who rooted for me and voted for me. I have so much support throughout the United States and in India from my families, friends and parents’ co-workers who all voted for me. Without the support of everyone and my parents this wouldn’t be possible.
Q: How would you describe your final season with the Cumberland Valley girls lacrosse team? Are there any funny stories, sad stories or moving stories that will stick with you?
A: My final season at Cumberland Valley was by far my favorite one! The girls on the team and the parents provided constant support to everyone. When it was time to get down to business, this team knew how to step it up and play. I wear ASU clothing to practice all the time. The underclassmen always teased me and asked if I was committed knowing the answer, but picking on me anyhow.
My favorite team memory was in 10th grade. At CV if you win a medal during your senior year you wear it with your cap and gown at graduation. I promised the senior class that year I would see they got to wear a medal at graduation. The Mid-Penn title game went into overtime with CV winning. My senior year our class made the same promise to ourselves and the team. The morning of graduation, we reminded each other to wear our Mid-Penn championship medals.
Q: Other than lacrosse, what are some of your biggest passions in life?
A: A passion other than lacrosse is a good question. I have spent almost every weekend and summer on the lacrosse field since middle school. When I am not playing the sport, I love coaching younger players. Up until high school I was a competitive figure skater and still find skating to be a great stress reliever. I am happy ASU has an ice rink. I think even more than sports I am the most passionate about spending time with my friends and family. It doesn’t even matter what we are doing if we are together. I have a very loving and supportive family! My parents have always supported me at my games or skating shows.
Q: You’re headed to Arizona State. Is there anything that scares you about starting college? What excites you?
A: I think the biggest transition to college for me is being so far from my friends and family. They are a big part of my life, but I know they are proud of me and support me 100 percent. That support will get me through the tough times. ASU is No. 1 for innovation in the country and really cares about their athletes. Not all Division I programs focus on both academics and athletics. ASU focuses on both with their “scholar baller program.” Athletes are recognized for their academic achievements and wear a special patch on their uniform. I want that patch on my uniform! I am looking forward to being part of history next year at ASU. We will be the first women’s team for their program and with the addition of our team, the PAC12 will be an official conference for the sport. I am also excited to wear No. 99, which has been my club number all these years. I got my student ID last week making me an official Sun Devil. Forks Up Sun Devil fans!
Q: Where do you see yourself after college, when everything you’ve worked for has fallen into place?
A: I have two goals after college. The first is to try and coach somewhere while I continue with my masters degree. I know lacrosse will not always be my No. 1 priority. After coaching I would like to work as a trauma nurse in a hospital. My biggest goal in life is to help other people.
A: As for my final thoughts to The Sentinel readers and writers, thank you for an amazing journey through my high school lacrosse career. I can’t thank you enough for the support, the coverage of our games and the opportunity to write the weekly articles during my final season. Thank you to the readers for voting for me and following me. I will always remember and appreciate all the times Mallory Merda and Geoff Morrow have covered our games. Anytime I have received any awards or recognition, Mallory has always been the first one to cover the story. Again, it is an honor and privilege to be named Athlete of the Year and thank you so much for following my journey!
FINAL FAN VOTING: 1. Sophia Thomas, Cumberland Valley lacrosse, 729; 2. Gracie Stauffer, West Perry volleyball, 637; 3. Emma Boutcher, East Pennsboro field hockey, 364; 4. Diamond Bragg, Camp Hill basketball, 194; 5. Maddie Hughes, Boiling Springs soccer, 179; 6. Courtney Coy, Shippensburg softball, 157; 7. Katherine Long, Trinity tennis, 121; 8. Marlee Starliper, Northern track & field/cross country, 32; 9. Kate Luft, Northern swimming, 28.