The people have spoken, and the winner of our Mattress Firm Student Athlete of the Year for 2018 is Kaelyn Smith.
The Polson Pirate was surprised with her $2,000 scholarship check at practice on Tuesday afternoon.
We caught the surprise reveal live on camera.
Thanks as always to our sponsor, Mattress Firm Montana! Their generosity is helping Kaelyn as she plans to play for the University of Montana after graduation.
Here's our bio about Kaelyn and video:
Since she began playing Little League, Kaelyn Smith has wanted to play softball for the University of Montana. And last Wednesday, the Polson Pirate infielder made that dream, a reality.
"I couldn't be more blessed with Coach Michael giving me this opportunity. And my team, my family and friends for supporting me throughout this whole way, I couldn't have done it without them." Smith says.
Smith mentioned her family, and it's an important part to this story. Kaelyn's grandfather is Larry Smith, who last spring was elected into the Montana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
"31 years as a head coach, I've had the honor of coaching my daughter and now my granddaughter, so yes, I feel very blessed about that." Smith says.
In the small town of Polson, Kaelyn has thrived in athletics. She was a standout volleyball and basketball star for the Pirates all four years of school. But she has also stood out off the court. She is the Senior Class President of Polson, with the main goal of her administration? Making the school a better place.
"I am very open to meeting new people, and I am not really one to be scary... I don't bite, so they just feel comfortable coming to me." Smith laughs.
Kaelyn participates in many other after school activities, including Key Club, National Honors Society, and LINK, a program designed to help freshman students acclimate to the high school environment.
"My group is super fun, so it was easy for them to click right away. None of them were like I don't want to do this, or I don't want to do that. They were all just like this is awesome." Smith says.
Kaelyn will be taking her talent and leadership skills to Missoula to play for the Griz next season. But she understands how growing up in this community helped shape her into the successful young woman she has become.
"They are so supportive, and we are practically like family. And I love them for that. Polson is amazing, and I'm glad I moved here and came to this perfect place."