Kennedy Fuller discusses Gatorade Player of the Year award, what lies ahead, and more

Photo Credit: Gatorade
Photo Credit: Gatorade /

2022-23 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Kennedy Fuller took some time to speak with FanSided about this honor and what lies ahead after USWNT star Mallory Swanson surprised her with the award. 

With 55 goals and 26 assists for the Southlake Carroll High School girls’ soccer team, sophomore Kennedy Fuller earned the most prestigious honor in all of high school sports — Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Fuller, a University of North Carolina commit who is scheduled to graduate in 2024 represented the U16 USWYNT earlier this year. She competed in the Mondial Montaigu Football Tournament, assisting on the winning goal in the title game while securing the competition’s Best Player honors. The midfielder has dreams of making it on the USWNT’s senior side.

Southlake Carroll’s No. 10 has shown out at each challenge that has come her way. When she has the ball at her feet in the middle of the pitch, Fuller never hesitates to drive forward into the teeth of the backline. This award is simply the first of what will be many in Fuller’s soccer career.

Watch our full interview with Kennedy Fuller below:

FanSided: Just hearing those words National Player of the Year, what does that mean to you? 

Kennedy Fuller: It’s just being able to be on that list with that. Just those people and with the names there and the names that they have, what they’ve produced and what they’ve done and what they’ve done for women’s soccer. How many people they’ve inspired, it’s just kind of opening doors and just making making dreams become not necessarily reality, but just putting them more under perspective. Realizing that they’re not, they’re not too far away if you continue to work, and you continue to push yourself and make sacrifices that need to be made.

You have also have represented the United States on U16 USWYNT. I can’t imagine how awesome that was for you. Playing in a tournament with teams all over the globe must have been a surreal experience, especially winning the Player of the Tournament award. What was it like playing against people your age across the globe?

Fuller: I played in CONCACAF the year before, but going across is a completely different game, they play so much different. It just makes you realize that in the U.S, we’re in sort of a bubble. You don’t realize how many more people there are. How many more girls like you, in reality you’re competing against. Going over there, and seeing, not necessarily how different they are, but how much we are the same was very cool. Trying to communicate with them was was very hard, but we eventually found our way. Making friends over there was very cool. Sometimes we still talk to some of the Welsh and hopefully, we’ll compete on a bigger scale, which is the goal in the end of the day.

As they say, football is its own language and like no matter what language you speak, that connects so many people. So that’s really, cool to hear. You obviously have one more season in high school before you go off to UNC, what what excites you the most going into your last hurrah in high school.

Fuller: Something that I’ve always said is high school soccer is a completely different game than club soccer and international soccer. It offers me the ability to play with my sister, who I normally wouldn’t be able to play with, but being able to play with her by my side has helped our relationship and offered us something that you not every sister gets to have with one another. That is something that I’m very excited about and then being able to go for another run. Playoffs is the most fun time that anyone could ever have. Just socially being there with your friends and being able to balance it with soccer. Learning through that because it’s going be even harder in college, just preparing me for that. I’m really excited.

I definitely want to ask you about how youth is becoming more prevalent in NWSL specifically and across the world in a lot of different leagues. There’s just a lot of young players in these in these leagues like Alyssa Thompson in the World Cup roster, and she even won the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2021. What is it like seeing players so young achieved so many great things? Whether it’s Alyssa Thompson, or Chloe Ricketts for the Washington Spirit. 

Fuller: It’s really cool. I actually went to train with Chloe, and Washington and hearing her experiences and how she learned to choose between the options that she had was really cool. To kind of understand her side and kind of understand what, what professional soccer is offering her. Obviously, Alyssa Thompson going to the World Cup at 18, it’s opening so many more doors for younger players to progress their game faster. It’s surreal to see that how fast it’s growing, and I would never have imagined that I would be training with some of the best players in the world right now. It’s very cool to be able to see that and see those girls succeed.

Being able to train with professional athletes, I can not even imagine. Overall, your future goals. You’re going to UNC, one of the most decorated women’s football programs in the United States. From UNC and beyond, what are your goals in this sport? What do you want to be known for as a soccer player, whether it be on the pitch, or even off of it? 

Fuller: Soccer wise on the field, I would say just making the senior team and then playing some hardware. Playing for something other than just yourself and your family, like playing for millions of other people is something that I really aspire to do. I would say off the field, just inspire as many people as possible to be themselves and be the best versions of themselves that they can be. Be as kind to other people as possible, because you never know what they’re going through.

People that obviously may not know you, Kennedy Fuller as a soccer player or a person, what’s the No. 1 thing you want them to know about you?

Fuller: I would say a leader. I want somebody to look at me and be like, “she is a leader and she holds herself and her team to a very high standard”. That will only help me inspire other people to dream big and be the best.

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