The National Junior College Athletic Association has named recently graduated Daytona State College Lady Falcons Golf phenomenon Mitsuki Katahira as the recipient of the 2011 NJCAA Betty Jo Graber Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award. The prestigious honor is bestowed annually to the top female student-athlete in the NJCAA who best exhibits hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in competition.
“Mitsuki is an outstanding athlete, student and person,” said Daytona State Women’s Golf Head Coach Laura Brown. “She has an incredible work ethic and is a great role model for other student-athletes. We are very proud of her and look forward to following her during the next phase of her golfing career.”
In her second season with Daytona State, the Kanagawa, Japan, native won the national championship tournament and did not finish lower than second place in any tournament play. All totaled, Katahira won nine of 11 tournaments in 2011 and was listed as the top female amateur player when initial rankings were released by the World Amateur Golf Ranking system. She is currently ranked third. Katahira also finished second among all collegiate women golfers in this season’s Golfstat Cup Standings. Her average round score was 71.10 and she shot under par in eight tournaments She finished two over par in a winning effort during May’s National Championships held at LPGA International's Champions Course.
During her play at Daytona State, the two-time NJCAA First-Team All-American led the Lady Falcons to two straight NJCAA Women’s Golf team championships, while also claiming two individual medalist titles in the process. She is the NJCAA record holder for the lowest individual three-round total (211 in 2010) and lowest individual round score (64 in 2010) in NJCAA Women’s Golf Championship play. Katahira also led the Lady Falcons to two NJCAA team records: lowest round score (280 in 2010) and lowest three-round team total (869 in 2010).
This month, Katahira will play the Women's North & South Amateur Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., followed by the LPGA qualifying school's first-stage tournament July 26-29 at LPGA International's Champions Course. If she advances through all three stages of the qualifying school, Katahira will earn her LPGA Tour membership by the beginning of December.
Katahira is the second golfer – and second Falcon - to receive the Betty Jo Graber Award since it was established in 1993. Softball standout Nicole Weed was presented the award in 1997. The award is named for longtime Weatherford College (Texas) basketball coach Betty Jo Graber, who also served as the Region 5 Women’s Director, the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Committee Chair and a founding member of the NJCAA Women’s Division. Graber also was among the first to be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.