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NCAA names 2018 Jim McKay Scholarship winners

North Carolina State’s Dahl, Belmont’s Smith to receive $10,000 each to pursue sports communications careers

An NCAA committee has selected two recipients of the 2018 Jim McKay Scholarships: Soren Dahl, who swam for North Carolina State and will graduate this month after double majoring in communications and political science, and Kylee Smith, who played on the Belmont women’s basketball team and now is pursuing a Master of Sports Administration.

The $10,000 scholarships for postgraduate study recognize student-athletes’ outstanding academic achievement and their potential to make a major contribution to the sports communications industry. The scholarship was created in 2008 to honor the legacy of pioneer sports journalist Jim McKay. The NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Committee chooses the recipients.

Soren Dahl

Watching a swimming broadcast as a child during the 2000 Olympic Games inspired two of Dahl’s dreams: becoming an Olympic swimmer and working in sports journalism. Dahl achieved the first in 2016 when he competed for his home country of Denmark during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and he is well on his way to a communications career.

“Since I began studying communication, I have been fascinated by the power it has to positively change social norms, foster mutually beneficial relationships and influence every aspect of athletics,” said Dahl, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in communications.

At North Carolina State, Dahl was a leader in the pool. He served as team captain in 2016-17 and competed on two Division I championship-winning relays — the 400-yard freestyle relay in 2016 and the 800 freestyle relay in 2017. After wrapping up his collegiate swimming career, he continued with the team as a student assistant coach and a marketing volunteer in the athletics department, while also working as a public relations and marketing intern for a gym.

Dahl’s short-term career goals include working at a nonprofit athletics organization that promotes equal opportunities for children to engage in athletics. His long-term goal is to become an international sports journalist.

“Soren understands the power and responsibility that goes along with ‘calling a game’ and telling the story — the story of the players, of the teams, and of the schools or countries that they represent,” said Roby B. Sawyers, the faculty athletics representative at North Carolina State.

Kylee Smith

Smith says the qualities that have helped her succeed on the court — dedication, perseverance and execution under pressure — are the same qualities she relies on off the court. 

“Being a member of the women’s basketball team at Belmont, I have been pushed in teamwork, collaboration and sacrifice — all important qualities of leading,” she said. 

During three years playing for Belmont, Smith averaged 16.0 points per game. She was the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament most valuable player in 2016-17. She also helped lead her team to three straight conference championships and served as team captain her last season. In addition, she was named OVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2016-17 and received Belmont’s Hale Leadership Award.

“The success of our program on the basketball court is a direct result of Kylee’s consistent contributions on both ends of the floor, along with her ability to lead and positively impact her teammates,” said Bart Brooks, head women’s basketball coach at Belmont. “She combines the highest levels of integrity and leadership while also being one of the most productive players in the country.”

Smith, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in business administration from Belmont in 2017 before starting graduate studies at the university, is working toward a career in sports marketing. She already has experience in her chosen field, including as a community relations intern with the Nashville Predators ice hockey team, as a digital media assistant and social media intern at Belmont, and as a Time Warner Cable SportsChannel intern.