ACA Soccer Star Named Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Player of the Year
CHICAGO (www.gatorade.com/poy) — In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced JJ Williams of Alabama Christian Academy as its 2015-16 Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Williams is the first Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Alabama Christian Academy.
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 Williams as Alabama’s best high school boys soccer player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in May, Williams joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook HS, Mich.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02, East Brunswick HS, N.J.) and Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.).
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior forward has led the Eagles to a 21-0 record and a berth in the Class 4A-5A state tournament quarterfinals against St. Paul’s Episcopal High, scheduled for May 7. At the time of his selection, Williams had scored 61 goals and passed for 20 assists, including eight goals in ACA’s first two playoff games. The 2015 Montgomery Advertiser All-Metro Player of the Year, Williams was a 2015 AL.com First Team All-State selection and is a member of the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Olympic Development Program team.
Williams has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally at a homeless shelter and food bank and on behalf of community beautification projects. He has also donated his time as a youth soccer and tennis coach.
“JJ Williams is amazing,” said Matthew Tarpley, head coach of Park Crossing High. “He has tremendous size and skill which is a unique combination that makes him a threat every time he receives the ball. He is the unquestioned leader of his team.”
Williams has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at the University of Kentucky beginning this fall.
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 the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, 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.
Williams joins recent Gatorade Alabama Boys Soccer Players of the Year Eduvie Ikoba (2014-15, Bob Jones High School), Jake Rufe (2013-14, Grissom High School), Chandler Stroupe (2012-13, Oak Mountain High School), Jack Hopkins (2011-12, Vestavia Hills High School), Nathan Diehl (2010–11 & 2009-10, Mountain Brook High School), Chandler Hoffman (2008–09 & 2007-08, Oak Mountain High School), and Paul Willoughby (2006-07, Grissom High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
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