For Kacie Sowell (Ventura, Calif.), the list of athletic and academic accolades continues to grow – WAC Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, DI-AAA ADA Scholar-Athlete Team, WAC All-Academic, and now the female recipient of the Bill Fenton 101 Club Athlete of the Year award, as announced at Seattle U’s Student-Athlete Awards Show in May. The award, first rewarded following the 2005-06 season, and named after former SU athletic director, Willard “Bill” Fenton, recognizes one male and one female student-athlete each year who have demonstrated excellence in athletics.
Despite the regional and national notoriety, Sowell remains humble and appreciates the award from her own athletics department just as much.
“I was surprised and also very honored because of the number of great student-athletes here at Seattle U,” said Sowell.
She refuses to take sole credit for any of the awards she has earned saying that “much of the credit goes to my team, our coaches, the SU athletics department, and our fans. It was because of everyone’s efforts that we were WAC [regular season] champions, which led to [being named WAC Player of the Year].”
Coming into her freshman year at Seattle U, the Redhawks would still have two more seasons as an independent and before they would be eligible for automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. But Sowell believed in head coach Joan Bonvicini’s system from the beginning, which is a big part of what has led to the team’s success today.
“I immediately bought into [Coach B’s] coaching style and vision for what she wanted this program to become,” said Sowell. “Once I came to the school on a visit and had the chance to meet the team and staff, I knew Seattle U would be a great fit for me.”
Flash forward three years as Sowell led the Redhawks to a regular season conference championship in the team’s first year in the Western Athletic Conference. In her first two seasons, the team more than doubled their win total and in the past two seasons, they have reached their first back-to-back NCAA Division I postseason berths, as well as 20-win seasons.
Looking back, Sowell says, “In my three years, we have made such big strides to reach back-to-back 20-win seasons and invitations to the postseason. Watching our growth each year is extremely rewarding and I am happy to be a part of it.”
But this success is only the beginning. The Redhawks still have their eyes set on the prize – becoming Seattle U’s first team sport to advance to the NCAA Tournament since returning to Division I status.
Sowell is spending the summer in her hometown of Ventura, Calif., enjoying some well-deserved time with family and friends, but also understands the importance of using this time to prepare for next season’s success.
“My expectation is to build further on what we accomplished this year and have a successful season. Knowing this summer is a big part of the preparation for my last year, I plan to work hard at home on my basketball skill work, as well as on strength and conditioning, so I can come back as ready as I can to help the team.”
Sowell has had many incredible mentors throughout her life thus far, but credits Seattle U with teaching her many important life lessons, on and off the court.
“I have learned what it truly means to work hard and to pursue goals, no matter how big they may be. The life of a college athlete is tough, but is also the most amazing opportunity a person could ask for. Usually the greatest rewards come after the toughest obstacles, so I would encourage anyone to always push through until you’ve reached your goals.”