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Soccer player is top female Air Force athlete

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- Competition and esprit de corps drive soccer player Kristy Kuhlman.

Now it has driven her to the top. Kuhlman, a second lieutenant contract specialist with the Space and Missile Systems Center's satellite and launch control system program office here, has been named the Air Force's 2002 Female Athlete of the Year.

Despite her competitive spirit, Kuhlman said she does not feel the recognition and honor of being selected top woman athlete in the Air Force should be solely hers.

"There are six of the best female soccer players in the whole Air Force here at Los Angeles Air Force Base," she said. "All deserve recognition."

Although it was not her aim, national recognition is following Kuhlman.

The 2001 Air Force Academy graduate gained five school goalkeeping records. The records were for most saves, least goals against, most saves in a game (16 versus Brigham Young University), most goalkeeper wins and most shutouts.

With a remarkable record of athletic achievement, Kuhlman remained at the academy for a year after graduation as an assistant goalkeeper coach and taught physical education to the cadets.

Before reporting for duty at Los Angeles AFB, Kuhlman kept up with her former classmates from the academy, and they encouraged her to apply for the Air Force Women's Soccer Team. The team beat Army, Navy and Marine Corps teams at Fort Eustice, Va., last May to win the Armed Forces Women's Soccer Championship.

From there, Kuhlman was selected to compete at the first "Conseil International du Sports Militaire" in the World Women's Soccer Championships in Kingston, Ontario. At the World Championships, Kuhlman was named most valuable player for two of the games and was pivotal in gaining the win for the United States in the inaugural championship with a 5-0 record.

"In women's soccer, the U.S. has always dominated -- we're the powerhouse," Kuhlman said. "The toughest competition was from Holland and Germany. They may have had better individual players, but we worked better as a team and won through teamwork and goal-driven determination."

In keeping with her desire to mentor other female athletes, Kuhlman, a St. Charles, Mo., native, volunteers her time coaching the women's varsity soccer team at local Loyola Marymount University besides her sporting pursuits of mountain biking, rock climbing and surfing.

Kuhlman and the Air Force's Male Athlete of the Year, Staff Sgt. Anthony Patrick of Kadena Air Base, Japan, will be honored at a series of events in Washington later this month. (Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)

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