Special Ride Continues For WVU’s Kadeisha Buchanan
By Bob Hertzel
Compared to some of the awards that have come former West Virginia University soccer star Kadeisha Buchanan’s way, and the list is long and distinguished, perhaps topped off over these past few days when she was named a finalist for the ESPY that goes to the Best Female College Athlete of the Year, the Hardman Trophy as West Virginia’s amateur athlete of the year may not seem like much.
After all, she came home from Rio last summer with a bronze medal hanging around her neck for helping Canada to a third place finish in the Olympics, which is hard to top.
Then there is also such hardware as the 2016 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy winner, the 2016 espnW and TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Year, the Honda Sport Award for soccer, making her one of 12 finalists for the Collegiate Women Sports Awards’ Honda Cup, awarded to the nation’s Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.
Of course, you can’t forget taking home the Young Player of the Year Award, not at some junior tournament, but at the 2015 Women’s World Cup while playing back home in front of the home folks in BC Place Stadium in Canada.
Add to that becoming WVU’s first four-time NSCAA All-American, being a finalist for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award and selection to the award’s All-America First Team. Additionally, she earned her fourth straight Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team honors. She capped her Mountaineer career with four Academic All-Big 12 awards, three Big 12 Tournament Defensive MVP honors and the 2015 Soccer News Net Women’s College Boot Award.
While we normally would avoid boring you with a list of a player’s accomplishments, you can’t understand the true magnitude of what she has accomplished before her 22th birthday.
What we are trying to say is that she is to WVU women’s soccer what Jerry West was to basketball and what Sam Huff was to football, heading off into a professional career with expectations that she will carry over her greatness just as those two did into becoming legendary figures in their sports.
What does having a player like this mean to a program and a school?
In truth, it is hard to measure, but consider both West and Huff, how they kept the WVU name and image out there before kids and potential donors over more than a half century, neither disappearing from the scene.
The two of them not only were great performers during their careers, but they were great individuals after those careers and there is nothing on Buchanan’s career to say she will be any different, especially for those women who may be thinking of bettering themselves by following the same path.
Coaches at WVU would be foolish not to hold her out as what can be accomplished at WVU, be they women’s basketball players, tennis players, volleyball or whatever.
She came here as a premier recruit, but sometimes that’s a curse rather than a blessing for it brings with it both pressure and expectations, both of which she met with a bright smile and a desire to prove herself better than even the most optimistic expected her to be.
She took not only the team and put it on her back, but the program, too, carrying it into the Final Four and then into the NCAA finals before USC found a way to derail her and her teammates.
You look at Buchanan’s humble upbringing, one of seven sisters to a single parent out of the Caribbean who settled in Canada and raised not only a special athlete but a special person who matched in academics her athletic greatness.
Kadeisha Buchanan is not a creation of a public relations campaign. This public relations department isn’t capable of reaching such heights and has a lot of company in that regard outside the high powered corporate world where they can make a gecko into a symbol for all kinds of insurance, a menacing tiger’s roar into creating an image that a cereal is G-r-r-r-r-r-e-a-t, or a lonely appliance repair man into a symbol that a Maytag washer or dryer is dependable.
She is the real deal, both on the field and off, a team player whose ability makes here a star but whose personna makes her shine.
Can she win the ESPY over women such as Inky Ajanaku (Stanford volleyball), Kelly Barnhill (Florida softball), Kelsey Plum (Washington basketball) and Zoe Stukenberg (Maryland lacrosse)?
Not only can she, but if there is any justice in this world she should, for she is one of those once-in-a-lifetime athletes who comes along and brings us all with her for the ride.