Three people standing in front of the league
Left to right are Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel Milenkovic, Kailyn Moneer and Hillsdale girls soccer coach Michele Lahmers.

JEROMESVILLE – Kailyn Moneer is getting used to being ahead of the curve, so it makes sense that she recently earned some ahead-of-the-curve (and top-of-the-state) recognition.

Stacking up honors and knocking down personal goals with regularity for the last few years, the Hillsdale High School senior was selected the winner of the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Leadership Award, presented by the Ohio Army National Guard.

“I was honestly baffled and was not expecting it,” Moneer said. “It’s a huge honor and I’m so happy to be able to represent my school and community this way.”

The award annually goes to just one female and one male high school senior soccer player among nominees from all over Ohio.

Hillsdale senior soccer player Kailyn Moneer recently received the OSSCA Leadership award, an honor that goes to only one female and one male student in all of Ohio. 

Specific criteria required a 3.0 GPA, 90 percent attendance in school and distinctive leadership qualities.

Moneer had been a volleyball player for the Falcons leading up to this fall, but she had a passion for soccer in her younger years and didn’t want high school to pass by without being part of the sport again.

Falcons soccer coach Michelle Lahmers was so impressed with her senior’s leadership from the get-go that she made her a team captain.

It was yet another distinction for a girl who serves as president of Hillsdale’s National Honor Society, vice president of student council, a member of the Captains’ Leadership Council and was even named Homecoming queen.

“Kailyn just always rose to the occasion as a leader, on and off the field,” said Lahmers, who nominated Moneer for the OSSCA honor through an essay to the National Guard. “(It could have been) just the simple task of helping with equipment or caring for other people, making sure her teammates were OK.

“I trusted her feedback; she was open and honest, and what she said was what she did.”

Also part of the Hillsdale track and field team as a high jumper, long jumper and sprinter in the 400-meter run, Moneer said she quickly fell back in love with soccer while reacquainting herself with the sport’s footwork and technique.

She was a defender for the Falcons and was selected to both the Senior All-Star Wayne-Holmes Game and the Northeast District Senior All-Star Game.

“I’ve created so many strong bonds and I want to remember my senior year,” Moneer said. “I feel like joining in soccer this year really aided in that.”

Because of the accelerated academic pace she has set for herself, Moneer’s specific ties to Hillsdale for the last two school years largely have been through athletics and academic extracurriculars.

Since the start of her junior year, she has been part of the College-NOW Business Administration program set up through Ashland University and North Central State College. Through that, all of Moneer’s schooling as a junior and senior will come on the AU campus.

When she graduates and moves on to Kent State University, she already will have an associate degree and could potentially earn her bachelor’s degree in fewer than three years.

“I wanted to push myself and I knew getting an associate degree before I graduated would be a really big accomplishment for me. I wanted to be able to give myself that extra step,” said the senior, who carries a 3.96 GPA.

“I’m still involved in so many things at the high school that I’m still connected with all my peers, so it makes it an easy process.”

Despite all the honors she has amassed, Moneer said the OSSCA Leadership Award is one that easily stands out in her mind.

She was presented the honor Monday during the Hillsdale soccer banquet by Ohio Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Daniel Milenkovic, who previously served in both Egypt and Afghanistan and currently is assigned to Hillsdale and the surrounding area.

On Dec. 10, Moneer will be awarded an engraved minutemen statue at the OSSCA state banquet.

Meanwhile, she’s adding to her time on the soccer field by helping Lahmers coach a local youth league.

“(During the high school season) she took a lot of pride in bringing the girls together and making sure that everyone felt included and everyone felt like they belonged,” Lahmers said.

“She’s a huge asset to our school and our community and I can’t wait to see what she does after she graduates.”

Doug Haidet is a 17-year resident of Ashland. He wrote sports in some capacity for the Ashland Times-Gazette from 2006 to 2018. He lives with his wife, Christy, and son, Murphy.