MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University women’s soccer team was well-represented at the 71st Annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 21, as four-time All-American and Hermann Trophy Award winner Kadeisha Buchanan and coach Nikki Izzo-Brown were awarded the Hardman Amateur Athlete of the Year and Furfari College Coach of the Year awards, respectively.
Held at the Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg and sponsored by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, Izzo-Brown accepted both awards Sunday afternoon. Buchanan, a two-time honoree and the first female repeat winner, was unable to attend the ceremony, as she is currently competing with Olympique Lyonnais in France.
Below is Buchanan’s acceptance speech, which Izzo-Brown delivered, followed by the 22-year coach’s speech.
From Kadeisha Buchanan:
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen!
I hope you all are enjoying the night’s festivities. I would first like to thank the West Virginia Sports Writers Association for hosting this wonderful event. I am really bummed that I could not be there to accept this award in person, but unfortunately, team obligations have prevented me from attending.
My sincere thanks to the West Virginia Sports Writers Association for selecting me for this prestigious award. This isn’t an easy award to win, and earning the honor two straight years is simply humbling. I am honored to accept the Hardman Award for 2016, especially since there are so many talented, really deserving athletes across the state. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees on the wonderful seasons they had this year.
I also want to thank all the fans and well-wishers who have followed the WVU women’s soccer team, especially those who came to see us play at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, traveled with the team or tuned in to television broadcasts or live streams of our games. I would like to give a huge shout-out to my WVU teammates, as well as the coaching and support staff.
I want to give an extra special thank you to my coach, Nikki Izzo-Brown, to whom I owe so much. Coach, first of all, congratulations on the Furfari Award. It's so good to see that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Secondly, I would like to thank you for accepting this award on my behalf, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate person for this job….other than me, of course! Last but not least, thank you for being there when I needed you every single time over the last four years. We joke about you being my U.S. mom, but in all seriousness, you really are. You welcomed me into your family with open arms, and this is something that I will never forget.
The state of West Virginia has shown me love since I arrived in Morgantown in 2013. The community in Morgantown is unbelievable. I was extremely sad that I had to say goodbye to it in December. West Virginia will always have a place in my heart forever. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.
To my family back home in Canada, thank you for always being a phone call away, showing your unconditional love for me and supporting me in every decision I have made. I love all of you so much.
From coach Nikki Izzo-Brown:
First of all, I would like to thank the sports writers of West Virginia who voted for me for this award. Thank you very much - this is an honor that I am very proud to receive. I’m proud to represent Mickey Furfari, who was an incredibly passionate, hardworking legend in his profession. The Furfari Coach of the Year award is a great honor for every coach in West Virginia. Most importantly, accepting this award today provides me with a chance to once again represent the amazing team I coached this past season.
Coaches receive awards like this because of others, and that is why I love the opportunity I have this year to represent and acknowledge so many people who helped us achieve such a successful year. It’s never about one individual, and it certainly wasn’t just about me. I would like to take this time to thank some of those “others” who have allowed me to earn this award.
To my husband, Joe, who has supported me in chasing my goals as a coach and sacrificed so much along the way. To my daughters - Samantha, Gracie and Gabbie - who have allowed me to be a mother/ coach to so many other young ladies on the team and miss moments in their lives. To my family - I am so extremely thankful for you.
To my parents, who taught me that anything is possible with a hard-work mentality. This constant message and belief are ingrained in everything I do in my life. There was a “no limits mentality” in my upbringing, and I truly believe my coaching career would have been different without this message.
When I started the WVU women’s soccer program 22 years ago, I believed that WVU was a special place and that a National Championship could be won…we just needed the right people in place. That is exactly what happened this past year. We fell short of the National Championship, but the WVU women’s soccer program did not fall short in impacting Mountaineer Nation with spirit and incredible role models for young kids.
To my players, I would like to thank you for your selfless behavior and for always buying into the team-first mentality. Your endless commitment and spirit, as well as your work ethic, were so infectious. The sacrifice and hard work that I witnessed this year were remarkable. There were many moments where we had to embrace “the suck,” and you all did it with no fear. I am so proud to be in the circle with you ladies and have you as my West Virginia family.
To Mountaineer Nation, thank you for never letting us down. You were always loud and proud. Even when we were on the road, the Gold and Blue always made a strong presence. Thank you for all the support and pride this year.
To my coaches – Lisa Stoia, Marisa Kanela, Zach Johnson and Josh Feldkamp – and my support staff – Shannon McNamara, Ashley Coker-Cranney, Conor McNamara, Theo Egbele and Amy Hile - I always get more credit than I deserve, and this is your award.
To WVU Deputy Athletic Director Keli Cunningham, WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and the WVU Athletic Department who believed in the vision and the run this year and supported this championship season – thank you.
To WVU President E. Gordon Gee - by far our biggest fan - I thank you for all your support and well wishes. You are a true role model of leadership to me.
Again, I would like to thank this team. You took our program to No. 1 in the country for six straight weeks, you helped us win two more Big 12 Conference championships and you fought your way to the 2016 College Cup Final. Thank you for inspiring me this year to become a better coach and for allowing me to become a dream-filler. You let me maximize your potential every day.
As my parents ingrained in me, anything is possible with hard work, and our goal in 2017 will be to bring an NCAA National Championship trophy to Morgantown.