When it comes to her college plans, Hays High senior Cori Isbell has been California dreaming from the start.

To make the dream become a reality, Isbell diligently applied for pretty much every scholarship she came across, setting her sights on attending Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

“I love California in general,” Isbell said. “But the location of (Pomona College) where you can literally ski one day in the morning and then go to the beach in the afternoon, that’s amazing to me. I always wanted to go to a California college from the very beginning.”

Isbell, an exemplary student and standout soccer player for the Indians, went into the Hays High Academic and Athletic Awards Night already knowing she had received several scholarships, but she was in for a major surprise on Monday night.

Isbell was announced as the recipient of a $20,000 national scholarship courtesy of Foot Locker during the awards banquet.

The honor, which is part of the Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program, is awarded to just 20 students nationally each year for “demonstrating academic excellence and exemplifying strong leadership skills both in sports and within their communities.”

Isbell was presented with an oversized check after the announcement.

“I was pretty surprised,” Isbell said. “I didn’t even know what I was going up for and then I saw the sign. It’s pretty cool.

“I was just trying to apply for as many scholarships as I could because I’m trying to go somewhere that’s so far away and it’s very costly. My mom and I just started applying for a bunch of scholarships and seeing what we could get. This is one of the ones that pulled through. I’m really glad for it, but I was not expecting it at all.”

Isbell said earning the $20,000 from the Foot Locker scholarship was a “big relief.”

“I basically have a full ride with my academics and financial aid to Pomona, but I still have some little costs with health insurance and stuff like that,” she said. “Now I don’t have to worry about that, it’s all taken care of with this scholarship. It feels amazing.”

After looking at a few other in colleges in California, Isbell said Pomona caught her eye but she wasn’t convinced she would get accepted. She plans to major in biology and minor in foreign language and leadership studies.

“It was kind of like the scholarship, I didn’t know if I was going to get in,” Isbell said. “I didn’t even think about applying there, and my mom was like, ‘Oh, we should apply there.’ And then we got in. It was great.”

Isbell has founded and is the president of the Hays High School Red Cross Club and has received the Daughters of the Revolution Good Citizen Award. She started a shoe drive for Soles4Souls to collect 20,000 shoes for those in poverty. Isbell also volunteers at the Hays Medical Center.

She said Monday’s Awards Night banquet was a memorable night for her and several other classmates.

“It was definitely a lot of fun,” Isbell said. “I’ve gone every single year since my freshman year. You sit there and you listen, and hopefully one day it will be you (getting scholarship awards). All my friends, they got some amazing awards, too. It’s really nice seeing our class stepping up and being really good role models for the younger generations too.”

With her college arrangements squared away, Isbell can now focus on helping the Indians soccer team finish out the season strong. The Indians were 9-1-4 heading into Tuesday’s game with Nickerson. Regional play begins next week.

“Soccer is one of my many passions, but right now it’s my main focus,” Isbell said. “We have some really big games coming up. Regular season is coming to an end and postseason is starting, and that’s when the challenge really starts.”

Standout soccer and basketball player Savannah Schneider earned Hays High's Jack Roberts Outstanding Female Athlete Award. Tradgon McCrae, a star in soccer, basketball and golf, won the Swim Carpenter Smith Memorial Award given to the most outstanding male athlete.