OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Following a nationwide balloting by coaches, media and fans, Ole Miss' CeCe Kizer has been selected as the 2018 Senior CLASS Award® winner in NCAA® Division I women's soccer.
The award, chosen by a 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. In order 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 was inspired by Duke men's basketball player Shane Battier and his decision to forego the NBA to remain in school all four years. Established in 2001, the award is presented in 10 NCAA sports and focuses on the total student-athlete, encouraging students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
"I am incredibly honored to have been selected for the Senior CLASS Award," said Kizer, the first student-athlete from Ole Miss to win the award in any sport. "It means so much to me that this award encompasses not only my athletic abilities but also my character as well as my efforts in the classroom and around the community. Joining the list of athletes who have received this award in the past is extremely humbling. Soccer has given me so many amazing opportunities, and I'm proud of all my accomplishments not only on the field but off of it as well. Over my four years at the University of Mississippi I have grown so much as a player and person, and I owe it to the many people who have helped me succeed along the way. I hope I am able to inspire the next generation of soccer players, just as those who came before me did for me."
On the pitch, Kizer completed a record-setting career for the Rebels, becoming the program's all-time leading scorer in September and finished her career with 48 goals and 119 points. The SEC regular-season leader in assists and goals scored, Kizer earned her third first-team all-conference honor, becoming just the third player in program history to be named to the All-SEC First Team three times and the sixth in school history with at least three All-SEC selections overall. Kizer led the Rebels to the NCAA tournament three times in her career, including back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history in both 2017 and 2018.
Off the field, Kizer has thrived academically and received numerous scholastic honors. A four-time honoree on the Ole Miss Dean's List, Kizer became the sixth player in Rebel history to be named a first-team United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-American while also earning CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2017.
"I'm thrilled for CeCe to receive this award," said head coach Matt Mott. "She is the epitome of what being a student-athlete is all about. She's obviously a fantastic athlete but also a great student, and she gives back to our community in so many different ways. We're so proud of her and happy that's she's being recognized in this way. She's been a great Rebel for the past four years and is certainly worthy of such a distinguished honor."
In addition to her competition and classroom responsibilities, Kizer has made community outreach a consistent priority. During her time at Ole Miss, she finds time to volunteer at the local parks and with the recreation programs in Oxford. She serves as a mentor for a youth team in the Oxford area and never turns down a request for an autograph or picture from young fans.
"CeCe is an outstanding all-around student-athlete," said Erik Miner, executive director for the Senior CLASS Award. "She has set a positive example of hard work in academics and competition, and she has done so while maintaining a high level of character and selflessness in school and in the community. Her well-rounded college career is worth rewarding, and we congratulate CeCe, her team and the entire university on this honor."