MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 25th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Ashley Wittman of Shakopee High School (Shakopee, Minn.) as its 2009-10 Gatorade® National Volleyball Player of the Year. Wittman was surprised with the news during her sixth period class at Shakopee High School by AVP champion and two-time gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.
"It felt great to surprise Ashley with the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award and invite her into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said AVP Champion Misty May-Treanor. "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."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Wittman as the nation's best high school volleyball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country helped select Wittman from more than 404,000 high school volleyball players nationwide. Wittman is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade® Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter led the Sabers to a 32-0 record and their third consecutive Class 3A state championship this past season. The two-time Gatorade® Minnesota Volleyball Player of the Year, Wittman collected 569 kills, 294 digs, 50 blocks and 26 service aces this season while posting a kill percentage of .662. In the Class 3A state final, she had 34 kills and 19 digs in a three-set sweep over Wayzata High. Wittman is also a two-time Minneapolis Star Tribune Player of the Year and a three-time First Team All-State selection.
A two-time Amateur Athletic Union Girls' Junior National Champion, Wittman led her Northern Lights club team to the USA Volleyball Junior Olympic Championships Open Division national semifinals in three straight years, including a finals appearance in 2009.
The 2008 PrepVolleyball.com National Junior of the Year, Wittman served as captain of the gold-medal-winning 2008 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team at the NORCECA Girls' Youth Continental Championship and was a member of the USA Select Red Team that won the gold medal at the 2007 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships in the International Junior Division.
Wittman has maintained a 3.87 GPA in the classroom. An active member of her church community and a member of the National Honor Society, Wittman has served on the Shakopee High Student Council in addition to coaching, officiating and instructing as a youth volleyball camp, clinic and summer league volunteer. She has also donated her time to the America Reads literacy-outreach program, the Special Olympics, and as a fundraiser for Feed My Starving Children international humanitarian efforts.
"Wittman is one of the best I've ever seen," said Mike Dean, head coach of rival Prior Lake High. "Her defense and her competitive drive is what sets her apart from the rest. She does whatever she has to do to win."
Wittman has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of Minnesota next fall and will graduate Shakopee High early to begin attending spring semester collegiate classes.
"Without question, Ashley is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school volleyball player based on her statistics on the court and the impact her accomplishments have had on Shakopee High School's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players 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.
To celebrate the award's 25th anniversary, Gatorade wants you to vote for the All-Time Greatest Volleyball Player of the Year at www.gatorade.com/POY25. To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade® Player of the Year on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 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 http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.
ALL-TIME GATORADE NATIONAL VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR YEAR NAME HIGH SCHOOL STATUS 2009-10 Ashley Wittman Shakopee/ High School Senior Shakopee, MN 2008-09 Gina Mancuso Papillion-La Vista/ University of Nebraska Papillion, NE 2007-08 Kelly Murphy Joliet Catholic/ University of Florida Joliet, IL 2006-07 Alix Klineman Mira Costa/ Stanford University Manhattan Beach, CA 2005-06 Megan Hodge Riverside/ Penn State University Durham, NC 2004-05 Cynthia Barboza Wilson Classical/ U.S. National Team Long Beach, CA 2003-04 Cynthia Barboza Wilson Classical/ U.S. National Team Long Beach, CA 2002-03 Kristin Richards Timpanogos/ U.S. National Team Orem, UT 2001-02 Bre Ladd Canyon Del Oro/ Attended Univ. Tucson, AZ Of Arizona 2000-01 Ogonna Nnamani University/Normal, IL Galatasary (Istanbul) 1999-00 April Ross Newport Harbor/ AVP Pro Beach Newport Beach, CA Volleyball 1998-99 Logan Tom Highland/ Asystel Novara (Italy) Salt Lake City, UT 1997-98 Sara Sandrik Pelham/Pelham, AL Stanford Graduate 1996-97 Denise Boylan Benet Academy/ Notre Dame Graduate Lisle, IL 1995-96 Kerri Walsh Archbishop Mitty/ AVP Pro Beach San Jose, CA Volleyball
SOURCE The Gatorade Company