Kelsey Coates, daughter of Howard and Cheri Coates of Wellington, was inducted Nov. 15 into the inaugural class of the Young Harris College Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Young Harris College Athletics Hall of Fame was established this year to recognize individuals for their outstanding athletic achievements and distinguished service to the school and the greater community. The inaugural class featured men and women nominated by alumni and friends for being an integral part of a celebrated history of athletics at the college. Coates, together with the 2006 women’s soccer team, was inducted as the college’s only national championship team to date.
Coates was awarded a soccer scholarship to Young Harris College in 2006 and played there as goalkeeper for two years while earning her associate’s degree. She continued her education, as well as her soccer career, at Webber International University.
Prior to becoming a four-year school, Young Harris College competed in the Division I class of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Her freshman year, Coates split duties with the sophomore keeper and was ranked ninth nationally with a .429 average. In her sophomore year, she attained a national ranking of No. 2.
This was all from a girl who thought her days of playing soccer, or any sport, were over when she was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy just prior to her 15th birthday. Given the fact that the majority of her seizures occurred on or around the soccer field gave many pause for concern. However, Coates was determined not to allow epilepsy to hold her back. With the request that she be treated no differently than any other player, she persevered to play all four years of high school soccer, while experiencing seizures during and after practices, and yes, even during half time of a game. During college recruitment, coaches were made aware of her condition, and she became a symbol of strength to her fellow athletes on and off the field.
November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, which gives the award an even greater meaning. It has made her more determined to educate others and encourage fellow athletes to keep pushing forward.
Coates invites readers to visit her blog at www.eps4u.net to learn more.
ABOVE: Kelsey Coates with Young Harris College President Cathy Cox and Athletic Director Randy Dunn.