North Tahoe senior Kaya Williams honored as NIAA Top 10 Student-Athlete
As the cliche goes, Kaya Williams has the brain to match the brawn.
The North Tahoe senior added to her impressive high school resume last week when she was honored at the 21st annual NIAA Top 10 Student-Athletes of the Year award presentation at the Peppermill Reno.
The 10 senior student-athletes received $500 scholarships and were invited to bring seven guests to the dinner ceremony, during which each recipient presented a speech. They also received a souvenir portrait and an NIAA Courtesy Card.
The annual award not only recognizes the seniors’ athletic achievements, but also their success in the classroom and involvement in their respective communities.
“This is an outstanding event which recognizes student-athletes who exemplify what high school activities and athletes are all about. While the requirements sound restrictive, we know these student-athletes exist as evident by the group of individuals we have with us tonight,” Donnie Nelson, assistant director for the NIAA, said at the awards dinner.
Williams, a three-sport athlete with a 4.31 GPA, also was presented in February with the NIAA Student-Athlete Scholarship. Only one girl and one boy in all of Nevada received the scholarship, which also was worth $500.
As the female state winner, Williams is now in the running to receive a $1,500 regional scholarship against competition from five Western states. The regional winners will then have a shot at a $2,500 national scholarship.
“When I think of the ‘all-star’ student, and one of the top of my career, I think of Kaya,” said Jeff Ream, Williams’ counselor at North Tahoe. “She is an example of academic fortitude, leadership, ‘self-startership,’ and follow-through. She sets an example in school that I hope all students can learn to fill.”
Williams will leave North Tahoe next month as a decorated athlete and Summa Cum Laude graduate before attending Boston University in the fall.
Athletically, she helped lead her North Tahoe cross-country team to two Division III state titles and two state runner-up finishes, while also earning two top-10 state finishes individually. In the winter she helped lead North Tahoe’s Nordic ski team to third-place state showings in each of her four seasons. And in the spring, she helped lead the Lakers to three regional titles in her first three years.
Individually on the track, Williams — who has yet to complete her senior season — has taken home three bronze medals from the state meet, and one gold and two silvers from the regional championships. She also was named Rookie of the Year her freshman season.
Outside of athletics, Williams has served as the junior class treasurer and ASB vice president for student council, assistant editor and editor-in-chief of the yearbook, executive editor for the school newspaper (Laker Lately), a board member for the Y.I.A. group, and the president of the Interact Club.
Her school-based awards include being an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. She scored a 2,090 on her SAT.
On top of her many achievements, Williams is known for her big heart, said North Tahoe athletic director Laura DesLauriers.
“I don’t believe Kaya has spent one minute of one day in all of her 17 years being unkind,” DesLauriers said. “(Kindness) is ingrained in her soul.”
Other NIAA Top 10 Student-Athletes of the Year included Kassidy Lommori (Yerington), Daniel Sciarani (Yerington), Benton Wickersham (Elko), Tristen Thomson (Fallon), Devon Casazza (Galena), Megan Damele (Eureka), Matthew Denn (Reed), Andrew Dobrowski (Galena) and Lauryn Massic (Spanish Springs).
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The second round of high school Nordic racing was held Wednesday at Auburn Ski Club, and for the second straight week, a skier from North Tahoe stood atop the podium.