Shakopee’s Taylor Koenen was one of 19 University of North Carolina student-athletes recognized as Tar Heel Leaders of Distinction, honoring their excellence within the framework of the Richard A. Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy, the university announced.

The Leader of Distinction Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Leadership Academy and recognizes student-athletes for extraordinary leadership. Nominations may be submitted by coaches, staff and fellow student-athletes.

“It’s a highlight of the year to announce and honor our Leaders of Distinction,” said Shelley Johnson, Executive Director of the Leadership Academy said in a statement. “Through their leadership, they’ve all made enormous impacts on their teams. These student-athletes have proven themselves to be outstanding leaders on and off the field, court, track, course, strip and water, and they have skills that will serve them well as they move on after graduation from UNC.”

Koenen is the first UNC women’s basketball player to earn the honor.

Koenen, who graduated from North Carolina earlier this month with a degree in business administration, has signed a contract with BCF Elfic Fribourg Basket, a professional team based in Switzerland.

In her four years at UNC, Koenen played in all 125 games and started 106, including every game in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

She set new single-game career highs for scoring, field goals, 3-pointers, free throws and steals in 2019-20 and was recognized with UNC’s Rammy Award for Female Breakthrough Athlete.

Sports editor

Todd Abeln has been the Shakopee and Jordan sports editor for more than 10 years. He enjoys highlight big accomplishments and competitive games. Todd also enjoys golf, softball and watching his kids play baseball, soccer, hockey and basketball.

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