Gatorade® National Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Ema Boateng

Former U.S. National Team Star and 1988 Gatorade Michigan Boys Soccer Player of the Year Alexi Lalas Surprises Standout with Elite Honor

May 17, 2012, 13:10 ET from Gatorade

CARPINTERIA, Calif., May 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 27th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Ema Boateng of Cate School (Carpinteria, CA) as its 2011‑12 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year.  Boateng was surprised with the news in class by Alexi Lalas

"When I received the state award for Michigan in 1988, it was such a special moment for me as an athlete.  I'm grateful to be a part of this moment for Ema, who is truly a phenomenal student-athlete on and off the pitch," said Lalas, former U.S. National Team and MLS standout. "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 field, distinguishes Boateng as the nation's best high school boys soccer player.  A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Boateng from nearly 400,000 boys soccer players nationwide. Boateng is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 5-foot-6, 165-pound junior midfielder led the Rams to a 20-2-1 record and the CIF-Southern Section Division VII tournament championship this past season. Boateng scored 32 goals, passed for 19 assists and was a repeat selection as the Southern Section Division VII Player of the Year. A two-time Division VII First Team All-State honoree, he concluded his prep soccer career with 79 goals and 49 assists. Officially listed as a member of the Class of 2013, Boateng has earned enough credits to attend University of California Santa Barbara this fall.

Boateng has maintained a 3.75 GPA in the classroom. A student tour guide for the Cate School, he has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple school-wide community service projects in addition to coordinating and coaching a summer youth soccer camp.

"In the 14 years I've been coaching in Southern California, I haven't seen anybody close to as good as Ema," said Vishtasp Farhadi, the U.S. Development Academy Co-Director for Strikers FC. "In terms of maturity and soccer IQ, I haven't seen anything like him. He's a very special player. He's very creative and has amazing vision. At the international Milk Cup in Ireland last summer, he became the only American to earn MVP honors in the 30-year history of that tournament. That puts him in the company of people like (English Premier League striker) Wayne Rooney, (LA Galaxy midfielder) David Beckham and (EPL attacking midfielder) Giovani DeSantos at the same age. Pretty good company."

Boateng has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at the UC Santa Barbara this fall.

"Without question, Ema is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school boys soccer player based on his statistics on the pitch and the impact his accomplishments have had on Cate's success," said Gatorade President North America and Global Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Robb O'Hagan.  "But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be.  He 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 ESPNHS 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.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:

  • Five-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard
  • WNBA Most Valuable Player Candace Parker
  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
  • Two-time Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh

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, on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at














Ema Boateng

Luis Rendon

Soony Saad

Dillon Powers

Chris Agorsor


Cate School/Carpinteria, CA

Cosby High School/Midlothian, VA

Dearborn High School/Dearborn, MI

Plano Senior/Plano, TX

McDonough School/Owings Mills, MD


High School Junior

High School Senior

Sporting Kansas City

U. of Notre Dame

Richmond Kickers


Brayan Martinez

West Orange HS/West Orange, NJ

Puebla FC


Eric Alexander

Portage Central/Portage, MI

FC Dallas


Lee Nguyen

Plano East Senior/Plano, TX

New England Revolution


Patrick Phelan

Wilbraham & Monson Acad./Wilbraham, MA

New England Revolution


Greg Dalby

Poway/Poway, CA

Charlotte Eagles


Jordan Harvey

Capistrano Valley/Mission Viejo, CA

Vancouver Whitecaps


Ned Grabavoy

Lincoln Way/New Lenox, IL

Real Salt Lake


Alecko Eskandarian

Bergen Catholic/Oradell, NJ

Semi-Retired from MLS


Kyle Martino

Staples/Westport, CT

Retired from MLS


Nick Downing

Eastlake/Redmond, WA

Retired from MLS


Nick Garcia

Bishop Lynch/Dallas, TX

Semi-Retired from MLS


Andy Kirk

Marquette University/Milwaukee, WI

Retired from MLS


Pierre Venditti

Jonathon Law/Milford, CT

U. of Maryland Grad


Andriy Shapowal

Kenston High/Chagrin Falls, OH

U. of Virginia Grad


Mike Fisher

Batavia/Batavia, IL

U. of Virginia Grad


Matt McKeon

De Smet Jesuit/St. Louis, MO

Saint Louis U. Grad


Claudio Reyna

St. Benedict's Prep/Newark, NJ

Retired from MLS


Todd Haskins

Howard/Ellicott City, MD

U. of N. Carolina Grad


Chris Henderson

Cascade/Everett, WA

Retired from MLS


Lyle Yorks

E.O. Smith/Storrs, CT

U. of Virginia Grad


John Gwin

Boise/Boise, ID

Duke U. Grad


Kevin Hundelt

Aquinas-Mercy/Hazelwood, MO

So. Illinois U. Grad


SOURCE Gatorade