/PRNewswire/ -- In its 26th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Morgan Brian of Frederica Academy (St. Simons, Ga.) as its 2010-11 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Brian was surprised with the news in a meeting with her teammates by Atlanta Beat (Women's Professional Soccer) and former U.S. Women's National Team defender Cat Reddick Whitehill, also a two-time Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
"It felt great to surprise Morgan with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award and welcome her into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said 2004 gold medalist Cat Reddick Whitehill. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."
As the recipient of the 230th Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy to be awarded since 1985, Brian becomes the first student-athlete from the state of Georgia to earn Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year honors. Only three other Georgians have earned Gatorade National Player of the Year recognition in any sport—highlighted by NBA superstar Dwight Howard of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (2003-04, Atlanta) and 2011 WNBA Draft No. 1 pick Maya Moore of Collins Hill HS (2006-07, Suwanee).
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Brian as the nation's best high school girls' soccer player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Brian from more than 356,000 girls soccer players nationwide. Brian is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 5-foot-7 senior midfielder led the Knights to a 17-2-1 record and a fourth straight Georgia Independent School Association Class AA state title. Brian scored 71 goals and passed for 30 assists this past season. A two-time Gatorade Georgia Girls Soccer Player of the Year, she was the 2010 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Youth Player of the Year for club competition and the 2010 PARADE National Player of the Year. She recorded 186 goals and 95 assists in her prep soccer career, which began as an 8th grader, helping Frederica Academy to five consecutive state finals. Brian has been a regular call-up to U.S. Soccer's youth national teams, playing in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2008 and captaining the U.S. U-17s squad in 2010.
Brian has maintained a 3.81 GPA in the classroom, and served as Class President from 2008-10 and Class Secretary from 2006-08. She is also a co-founder and the one of the lead fundraisers for the Many Hearts One Goal Foundation, which won an AT&T National Sportsmanship Award in 2011 for the work done to benefit the Under-17 Haitian Women's National Team displaced by that country's 2010 earthquake. Brian has also volunteered locally on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, the Relay for Life and the Manna House, providing meals for the needy. A member of her local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and Sevenoseven Ministries, a faith-based youth mentoring group, she is also a licensed youth soccer coach, donating her time as an instructor for Florida's Clay County Soccer Club.
"I think she will be an important player with the U.S. Women's National Team moving forward," says Mike Dickey, Technical Advisor for U.S. Soccer. "Her brain is as good as anyone's we have playing that position right now. She's special. If she stays healthy, she's got a chance to be very influential in U.S. Soccer. Her commitment and make-up are tremendous and she continues to make great strides. There's nobody like her."
Brian has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on scholarship at the University of Virginia this fall.
"Without question, Morgan is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school girls soccer player based on her statistics on the field and the impact her accomplishments have had on Frederica Academy's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year web site at http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.
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