UTICA – Whether it was running down an errant pass on the volleyball court or diving for a loose ball during a basketball game, Centennial junior Kate Hirschfeld was always guaranteed to give her team and coaches 100 percent.

Those qualities, along with her leadership skills and of course some pretty impressive numbers to back all that up, was enough for the junior to be named the 15th recipient of the York News-Times’ Female Athlete of the Year Award on Monday.

Hirschfeld was quick to point out that all she achieved this past year was not without a little help from all her teammates and coaches.

“I’m just thankful for the teammates that I have and they have all helped me to get where I am. They have pushed me to get better,” Hirschfeld said. “When you are surrounded by great athletes it just makes you even better. I am just really thankful.

“It takes great people surrounding you. It takes a great and supportive community and a lot of hard work, even when you don’t feel like getting out and working to get better,” she added. “You have to be disciplined and keep yourself focused.”

The COVID-19 pandemic robbed student-athletes of their 2020 spring sports season, but through the fall and winter sports campaigns, Hirschfeld had established herself as one of the best well-rounded athletes in the York News-Times’ coverage area.

Before a wrist injury ended her basketball season during the quarterfinals of the Southern Nebraska Conference tournament, Hirschfeld was among the area leaders in several different categories. Even on the night of her injury, Hirschfeld pushed herself to complete the game after suffering the injury in the first half. She ended up scoring 18 points in the contest.

Hirschfeld averaged 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a junior. Both of those averages were in the top 10 of the area stats.

On the volleyball court Hirschfeld slammed 297 kills, which was third best in the area, and her 60 ace serves was second best.

With the 2020-21 high school sports season approaching, Hirschfeld and her teammates are looking forward to getting back on the court and taking care of some unfinished business.

“The last three years we have come up short, so this is our last year and last ride with all of the seniors and teammates,” Hirschfeld said. “We have been playing together since we were in the third grade, so it’s special and I can’t wait to see how this year works out for us.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Hirschfeld used the time to get healthy and stay in shape.

“At first when everything was closed down I still had my cast on. So it was a good time to get my wrist back to where it needed to be,” Hirschfeld said. “I did a lot of at-home workouts with makeshift weights and just anything to keep my body in shape. And now when we finally get to come back together it’s been really nice being around all my teammates again.”

Hirschfeld said the team is getting ready for both volleyball and basketball camps. During her senior season, she wants to have fun and of course achieve success wherever she’s competing.

“I just want to make it to state, improve and have fun. And just have a great time and make my final year a great one,” Hirschfeld said. “I think now more than ever with me being a senior, it’s important to be a good example both on and off the court. I like to lead by example, and there’s no slacking off if you want to attain your goals. If you want success you have to work for it.”

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