Valley's Claassen to receive YWCA award
Alexis Claassen's future plans are like her extra points — straight on and good.
Claassen, a senior at Valley, knows exactly what she wants to do:
Attend West Virginia University.
Major in pre-med.
"I want to walk on," Claassen said. "I know their kicker left. And I haven't missed an extra point in a really long time. I think I can do it."
Claassen has been Valley's kicker for the past two seasons and has punctuated many Vikings touchdowns, her kicks at Memorial Stadium sailing through the uprights into Pucketa Creek.
For those who follow Valley, the novelty of seeing a girl kick has all but worn off, due to Claassen's accuracy — 27 for 29 last season.
But many others are recognizing her achievements. As a result, she will have an award to take with her to Morgantown.
Claassen has been named the YWCA High School Teen of the Year for a team sport. She will receive the award at a banquet March 31 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Greensburg.
Claassen also runs track and plays tennis, and has dabbled in soccer and swimming at Valley.
There have been times when Claassen would go to one practice, leave, and attend another.
"The nice thing is that it kind of encompasses all of my sports," Claassen said. "And, my community service and academics. It's a nice award."
For her two-year career, Claassen made 44 of 50 extra points and one field goal. She is believed to be the first girl in WPIAL history to make an extra point in a playoff game.
"She is one of the greatest kids I have coached," Valley head football coach Troy Hill said. "Her big brothers accepted her from day one. The exciting thing was watching boys come out to compete against her and try to beat her out. But they never did."
With a pre-med schedule, one would think Claassen will lack the time to play football in college.
"My schedule will never get in the way," Claassen said.
Valley assistant football coach Bill McGregor said it isn't a reach to say Claassen could be the successor to Pat McAfee at WVU.
McAfee, one of the top kickers in Mountaineers' history, played his high school football at Plum. He also was WVU's punter.
"The way she approaches things, I wouldn't be surprised at all if she made it," McGregor said. "She is very confident in everything she does."
"All she has to do is make the extra point," Hill said. "With the right coaching, she can get even better. You don't see many girls that can come out for a football team and do what she did."
Working plenty of extra hours with her father also helped. Claassen always seems to find time for things she enjoys doing.
"Alexis is a noble athlete and student," Valley tennis coach Rachel Link said. "She is extremely versatile and outgoing. Her life is in perpetual motion. If she gets something in perspective, she will work to achieve it."
Link said Claassen picked up tennis quickly, but Claassen said football is her sport.
"I just like to go out and kick; that's it," she said. "I really enjoy playing. And the guys I played with are my closest friends now. It was more than just playing football."
In addition to her busy athletic schedule, Claassen also does well in the classroom and has traveled extensively.
For two weeks in December, Claassen went to China and did some blogging for the Valley News Dispatch.