West Virginia’s best high school boys soccer player and the Mountain State’s best girls high school soccer player have something very important in common.
Both are excellent student athletes at Wheeling Park High School.
Wheeling Park boys soccer standout Coleman Meredith was named just days ago as the West Virginia Player of the Year, while Patriot girls soccer captain Graceylyn Hanna was named in January as the state’s Player of the Year. The state’s top players are selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, and Meredith and Graceylyn Hanna will be honored for their achievements on May 23 in Charleston at the 74th Victory Awards Dinner.
Meredith was a four-year leader for Park, and the midfielder finished his senior campaign with 28 goals and eight assists. Graceylyn Hanna led the Wheeling Park girls soccer team to a state championship in her senior season with 15 goals and 27 assists. One of those was a free kick in the final minutes of the state championship that lifted the Patriots to a 1-0 win over Parkersburg South.
Graceylyn Hanna said Thursday that she was thrilled when she learned that she’d been selected as the state’s top girls soccer player, and Meredith’s selection as the top boys soccer player was no surprise to her. She said she hoped her friend would earn the award, and she knows he deserved the selection. Graceylyn Hanna, who is the daughter of Wheeling Park head girls soccer coach, Carrie Hanna, said Wheeling Park’s boys and girls soccer coaches played an important role in the success of both teams and also in the development of individual student athletes.
“I think Cole and I lead our teams to believe in themselves, and we changed the boys and girls soccer programs for Wheeling Park,” she said. “We left a legacy for our great teammates and both of our younger sisters and my younger brother to follow. I am so happy that Cole got to end his unforgettable high school career this way, and in middle school, I don’t think we could’ve imagined a better way to have our high school soccer careers turnout.
“It also demonstrates that Wheeling Park’s coaches produce great players,” Graceylyn Hanna added. “When I’m on the field, I just see (my mother) as a coach. It’s been great to see what she can do and how she can make people believe in themselves. Coach (Bryan) Arbes was great for conditioning and bringing laughter to the team. I know Cole likes coach Mario (Julian), and he really makes the team work. Both Wheeling Park teams are lucky to have the coaches they have”
Meredith said he has known Graceylyn Hanna since they were in sixth grade as students at Warwood School. He said they quickly became friends, and they discussed their passion for soccer back then. Meredith said they both believed they would be successful soccer players at Wheeling Park High School.
“We’ve talked about this since middle school, and it actually happened,” Meredith said. “It’s crazy that it actually happened. It’s definitely a great accomplishment, and I’m really happy for (Graceylyn) too. We’re good friends.”
Meredith also thanked his coaches and teammates for making his four years as a Patriot soccer player so memorable.
“It was always fun with coach Mario (Julian) and coach Bill (Konkle), but it was serious too,” he said. “They want to win, and they want their players to want to win. I’m so glad to have had them as my coaches. I’ve known coach Bill since he coached me when I was very young. It’s been great. I’ve been close to my soccer teammates, and they are my best friends to this day.”
Wheeling Park High School girls soccer coach Carrie Hanna said she was thrilled to learn that her daughter and star player was chosen as the girls soccer player of the year. She noted that it was made even more special to learn that Meredith was named as the top boys soccer player.
“I have never heard of (one school having two players named as the player of the year) in the same year,” Carrie Hanna said. “It’s pretty amazing, and It’s also special for the entire Wheeling soccer community. I also think they are so deserving of these honors. They are both true team players. Both of them are the whole package – exceptional students, amazing competitors and wonderful human beings, and that’s what the world needs.”
Wheeling Park boys soccer coach Mario Julian congratulated Graceylyn Hanna and Meredith for being named as Player of the Year. He said Meredith is one of the most talented players in the history of Wheeling Park High School, but his worth as a player goes beyond skill.
“He is a unique individual, and he’s very motived,” Julian said. “What he’s accomplished is incredible. He wants to be the best, and he’s done that. He practices harder than anyone, and he’s a great leader and motivator. Coleman also understands that he needs his teammates. Skill wise, he’s one of the best ever, but as a human being, he is better. He is special. I’m glad that I got to coach him for four years.”
On Tuesday, Wheeling Park High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Dwaine Rodgers said the school is proud of Meredith and Graceylyn Hanna, and he added that their recognition is well deserved. He noted that both student athletes are standouts beyond the soccer field.
“It’s incredible,” Rodgers said. “Those two are top notch. They are talented athletes, but they are gifted and respected young people. They are leaders on the field, but they are also leaders within the school and community. It’s well deserved for both of them, and we’re very proud of them. We couldn’t be happier for both of them.”
Ohio County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones congratulated Meredith and Graceylyn Hanna at the Jan. 8 regular meeting of the Ohio County Board of Education. On Thursday, he said it is not common to have such recognition at one school.
“It’s really amazing to have the top boys player and the top girls player in the same sport in the same year,” Jones said. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened. Being named as player of the year says a lot about Cole and Graceylyn, but I think there’s more to it than that. I think it also says a lot about their teams, their coaches and their families.”