CHICAGO (Dec. 17, 2018) – Centre sophomore women's soccer student-athlete Gracie Fitzgerald has been named U.S. Soccer Player of the Year with a Disability.
The award was formed in 2012 as an extension of the existing Player of the Year awards that have been awarded to National Team members since the mid-80s.
Fitzgerald has made a huge impact on the pitch for the Colonels in two seasons, most recently helping Centre finish 21-1 overall while reaching the NCAA "Sweet 16." Starting on the back line, she played a role in one of the best defenses in the nation, as Centre surrendered a 0.32 goals-against average.
She also contributed two goals – both of which came during the Southern Athletic Association Tournament – including a magnificent headed goal in the SAA title match against Rhodes.
The Georgetown, Ind., native has been a member of the U.S. Deaf Women's National Team since 2015. She scored a goal against Great Britain and went on to earn Best XI All-World Cup Team honors after America's dominant Deaf World Cup run in Italy in 2016, which culminated with a 3-0 victory over Russia in the final match. The USA's defense, anchored by Fitzgerald, conceded only two goals in its World Cup run.
"It is an absolute honor to be recognized for playing the game I love," Fitzgerald told U.S. Soccer. "Playing for the U.S. Deaf WNT has afforded me the opportunity to represent my country, especially those in the deaf and hard of hearing community, who overcome challenges every day to achieve their personal best."
"Soccer requires a significant amount of communication in order to be successful, yet I play on a team where communication is a huge disadvantage. But that has not stopped us from being a successful team. I cannot wait for the opportunities and adventures of the 2020 Deaf World Cup."
U.S. Soccer Player of the Year votes are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who earned a cap in 2018, American soccer league (MLS and NWSL) head coaches, select media members, former players and administrators.