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November 5, 2002

Napier nabs national nod

From: Harrison Daily Times, AR
Nov. 5, 2002

Tamrah Napier is a winner.
The 12-year-old girl is an avid soccer player and has played with the Omaha Soccer Association since she was 4.

Not only do her teammates know what a winner she is, she recently was given the national 2002 Secret SportsGirl of the Year Award.
Secret Anti-perspirant and the Women's Sports Foundation sponsor the award annually, presenting it to a young female athlete that demonstrates success and sportsmanship both on and off the playing field, a press release said.
The release said more than 1,500 girl athletes were nominated by coaches, teachers, athletic directors, parents and peers across the country.
Tamrah was chosen as one of the five semi-finalists and at the Women's Sports Foundation Annual Salute to Women in Sports Dinner in New York City held Oct. 21, Tamrah was given the top national honor.
"Napier serves as a role model through her involvement in her church, community center and the United Way," the release said. "She encourages other disabled teens to overcome their disabilities while also supporting anti-drug, anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol programs."
Oh, yes - Tamrah also is legally deaf and blind.
But those disabilities haven't stopped her from excelling to the point that the 12-year -old goalie plays on the 15- and 16-year-old team and has won several sportsmanship awards.
She also volunteers to teach smaller children soccer techniques during camps and seminars in the area.
But what does she like most about soccer?
"Working as a team," she said with a smile.
Tamrah, the daughter of Mark and Jana Fornes, said the banquet at which she was honored was a fairly star-studded event with giants from sports and Hollywood such as Martina Navratilova, Geena Davis, Holly Hunter and even Billie Jean King, women's tennis great who founded the Women's Sports Foundation in 1974.
"Tamrah got to present Billie Jean King with a rose from all of the girls and then at the end of it the athletes all picked up Tamrah and Billie Jean King and they were holding hands up in the air waving to everybody," Jana said.
"I was excited," Tamrah said about finding out she had won, but she didn't scream.
"She was more or less speechless, I think," Jana said. "I was doing more of the screaming."
Her first trip to New York City, Tamrah said it was an awe inspiring experience, but there were a couple of tight moments.
"The scary part was going on stage in front of more than 500 people at the dinner," she said.
The press release said all finalists' sports team or club would get an automatic $250, but as the winner Tamrah's team will get $5,000.
Jana said the team plans to buy an acre of land to make a soccer field since they don't have one now and are forced to practice in a pasture.
And since she's responsible for what will be the new field, there will be something even more special about it.
"It's dedicated to me," Tamrah said.
Jana said J.C. Penney donated clothing for the trip and for press conferences, Trinity Baptist Church gave them money for the trip, the staff at Cut-N-Loose salon did her hair and helped with her outfit and "all of our family" was supportive of them while traveling and at home.
And Jana said the experience of meeting all those famous people and being honored with a national award might just be a hard one to top for a while.
"It was a dream come true for her," Jana said.
Jana said Tamara's eardrums are not developing with the rest of her body and are still very small.
In fact, some experts are saying that she might be totally deaf by the time she's 18, but she doesn't believe it.
She is preparing for that eventuality by learning to read lips and sign language, but she still has high hopes that the experts are wrong.
"But she won't let that get her down," Jana said.
And she has high hopes for her future in soccer, too.
"I'm going to try to be a professional soccer player," Tamrah said.

©Harrison Daily Times 2002