Q&A With Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year (Girl) – Highland & Gilbert Arsenal’s Jaden Degracie
Jaden Degracie has now won Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year in back-to-back years. Degracie, known for her flip-throw-in, scored 8 goals this season and picked up 47 assists for Gilbert Highland who were knocked out of the Arizona High School playoffs in the semifinals to rival Desert Vista. The University of Arizona signee closed out her High School career with 13 goals scored and an astonishing 101 assists.
DeGracie is also a two-time First Team All-State selection and was a 2012 All-Region VIII honoree by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. She also maintained a 4.36 GPA and has volunteered locally as part of a literacy-outreach initiative, as a youth soccer coach and on behalf of the U.S. Youth Soccer TOPSoccer program for athletes with physical or intellectual challenges.
AZKicksit had a chance to catch up with Degracie after she learned she won the award. On the boys side Mason Robertson won.
More pictures and a video of her flip thrown-in below.
AZKicksit - What’s your Initial reaction to winning the award?
Degracie - “It’s just excitement and joy, I feel so blessed. It doesn’t seem real to me. My coach John Berzins)always calls me and is always the first person to tell me. The first year it happened I didn’t know what I was filling out the papers for and when I got the call I was amazed I would even be considered for that. It’s a huge honor and the girls and I have always looked up like Hillary Zenick got it once and I look up to her as a player. To be in that same position is just unreal.”
AZKicksit - Winning the award in back-to-back years, did you think this would happen again?
Degracie - “I had an idea and so I again feel so blessed that I already got it. I was thinking I got it once it would be unlikely for me to get it against the other players I play against I figured they would be filling it out also. I respect them so much as players and opponents and I figured they would give it to another people so the same person doesn’t get it twice.”
AZKicksit - When did you learn the flip throw-in?
Degracie - “I learned it because I was a gymnast before and I was pretty a elite gymnast and it got to a point and i had to choose between sports the two sports. My club coach knew I was a gymnast and this is when I was 8 years old. He showed me a Youtube video of a guy in the park and asked me if i could do it and I went out one night and I have been doing it ever since.”
AZKicksit - Many people aren’t too concerned with assists, but you picked up 101 assists how have you been able to be so deadly contributing on goals?
Degracie - “I think soccer is a team sport and I play for the team. I play for other people. I enjoy getting goals and recognition but it’s more about what I can do for the team and what I can do better to help us win. You can’t have one person scoring all the goals and one person doing everything because you would be so easy to defend I like to help other people get goals. I like it because they get so excited to score and that means a lot more to me than for myself.”
AZKicksit - What was it like winning the State Championship your junior year?
Degracie - “Oh my goodness, it was the best feeling in the world especially because I love my school and to represent my community and to put on that jersey knowing that I’m a Hawk and to win, especially with my girls because we have become so close and we work for each other. It’s that surreal and that good.”
AZKicksit - Good luck next year at UofA!
Degracie – Thanks.