Casey named scholar-athlete of the year at Cuesta

Molly Casey, a 2013 Yosemite High graduate, has received the Warren Hansen Scholar-Athlete Award for her academic and athletic achievements at Cuesta Community College in San Louis Obispo.

Casey was an aquatic star for two seasons in both water polo and swimming at Cuesta. She is a two-time All-Western State Conference water polo player, two-time All Conference backstroke champion in swimming and a four-time All American in swimming.

She has been named to the All-Western State Conference Academic Team four times, and has a 3.9 GPA in 72 units over the past four semesters.

“Molly is an exceptional person... She tries to make everything fun, but remains focused to achieve all her goals both academically and athletically,” said Cuesta water polo Coach Pete Schuler. “She is one of the most universally liked aquatic athletes we have ever had at Cuesta and is a great teammate.”

She holds the Cuesta school record in the 200 yard backstroke (2:11.5), and still holds the Yosemite High record in the 100 backstroke at 1:03.22.

Casey, 19, recently competed at the State Junior College Championships at East LA Community College in Monterey Park, finishing tenth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:01. She had the sixth best time at the meet in the 200 backstroke, finishing in 2:11.5.

In her first year playing water polo for the Cougars, the team tied the school record for wins with 26, then broke the record this season with 28 victories. The team placed second in the conference championship tournament behind LA Valley Community College.

Casey said it was the right decision to attend Cuesta to allow her to continue to play water polo and swim.

“Cuesta has a fabulous athletic program and good academic programs,” Casey said. “I love Cuesta, and it’s been a great opportunity for me.”

Casey’s sister, Erin, a 22 year old who graduated from YHS in 2010, also played water polo and swam for Cuesta. She will graduate from Cal Poly in June with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, and will enter graduate school in the fall of 2016. She hopes to be an athletic trainer.

Erin also coaches the girl’s varsity swim and water polo teams at Atascadero High School. In the fall, she will be an assistant coach for the Cuesta women’s water polo team.

In 2013, Erin won the George Silveria Career Award for combined excellence in leadership, academics and athletics.

Another former Badger, Riley Cooks, was named Cuesta’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2014 for her outstanding achievements in track & field. She was the state JC champion in the heptathlon that year.

“It’s pretty cool that the three top women’s awards given at Cuesta have gone to Yosemite High School graduates three years in a row,” Molly said.

Molly coaches the Morro Bay High School girls JV water polo team, and lead the team to third place in its league, highest the team has placed in more than 10 years.

She credits Coach Schuler with making her a more aggressive water polo player, focusing on improving her defensive play.

“By forcing me to me more aggressive, he made me a better all-around player,” Molly said.

In swimming, Casey said assistant coach Rich Firman worked with a lot on her starts, turns and strokes. that helped her drop a lot of time in her events.

And she has not forgotten Brandon Brokaw, her YHS water polo and swimming coach.

“I’ll never forget how much he helped me in water polo and swimming at Yosemite,” Molly said. “During these past two years at Cuesta, I would often think about the things Coach Brokaw taught me. A lot of my success at Cuesta was due to the strong foundation Coach Brokaw gave me in both water polo and swimming.”

Molly will follow in her sister’s footsteps to Cal Poly, majoring in child development/speech pathology with a focus on infants and pre-school children. She is undecided if she will swim for Cal Poly.

“My original plan out of high school was to compete for just two years, but after the success I had this year and ending the year on a good note at the state swimming meet, it’s now become a big consideration for me to continue to swim at Cal Poly.”

The male recipient of the Warren Hansen Scholar-Athlete Award was wrestler John Sinclair, a two time All-Conference wrestler and a two-time CCCAA State Meet qualifier.

In 2002 the Cuesta Athletic Department established and named the Warren Hansen Scholar-Athlete Award in recognition of former Cuesta Athletic Director Warren Hansen’s 36-year commitment to academic excellence. A student must maintain a 3.5 GPA and be nominated on the basis of their citizenship and athletic performance.

Both Casey and Sinclair will represent Cuesta at the conference and state level as Cuesta College’s CCCAA Scholar Award nominees. Their nominations will move forward to the conference level in September.

The Casey sisters are the daughters of Matt and Kathy Casey of Yosemite Lakes Park in Coarsegold.