ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A Wylie High School senior is getting a national recognition.

Kaitlyn Via is a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship, the only one in the Big Country to receive that honor this year.

For years, it’s been Kaitlyn Via, her cleats and a soccer ball.

“I started playing soccer when I was 4,” said Via. “I went to Big Country and then I started playing club here in Abilene.”

These days, though, you can find her in a purple uniform shooting for the bulldogs.

“I play attacking mid,” said Via. “I get a real chance to create the attack and create opportunities for the team”

While this may not look like anything academic, it’s still translating into the classroom.

“The National Merit Scholarship is part of the PSAT, we took it last year in October and the top 1% of students taking that test can move on to be semifinalists,” said Via.

Via says that training for her top score was just like a set of drills.

“I had teachers work on it with me and I got better at it, so that way I would have these opportunities,” said Via. “It’s hard work is always what it is, you put in time, you put in effort and you pay that price. I mean of course one, it’s physical labor in soccer, which is a lot different than sitting down and reading a book, but it’s the same.”

While she continues to score high on the field, it’s her strategy off of it that’s earning her this recognition.

Less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors qualify for this scholarship.

In Texas, Via is one of only 1,400 still in the running.