CHICAGO — In its 32nd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, has selected Jake Donaldson of McIntosh High School as its 2016-17 Gatorade Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Donaldson is the third Gatorade Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from McIntosh High School.
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 Donaldson as Georgia’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 June, Donaldson joins an elite alumni association of past state soccer award-winners, including Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook HS, Mich.), Steve Cherundolo (1996-97, Mt. Carmel HS, Calif.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02, 2002-03, East Brunswick HS, N.J.), Matt Besler (2004-04, Blue Valley West HS, Kans.), Jack Harrison (2013-14, Berkshire HS, Mass.), Mallory Pugh (2014-15, Mountain Vista HS, Colo.).
The 5-foot-7, 135-pound junior forward led the Chiefs to a 22-1 record and the Class AAAAA state championship this past season. Donaldson scored 36 goals and passed for 17 assists and compiled 13 multi-goal games. He tallied eight goals and six assists in McIntosh’s five-game postseason run to the state title including both assists in McIntosh’s 2-1 overtime win over Clarkston High in the championship game.
The starting kicker on the McIntosh football team, Donaldson has volunteered locally on a fundraising campaign to benefit muscular dystrophy research and as a youth soccer and football coach. “Jake was very good for them and presented many problems for the teams facing him,” said Mike Hanie, head coach of Starr’s Mill High School. “He was very good at taking players on and getting behind the defense and scoring goals.”
Donaldson has maintained an A average in the classroom. He will begin his senior year of high school 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 Player of the Year Selection Committee, 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.
Donaldson joins recent Gatorade Georgia Boys Soccer Players of the Year Josh Bronstorph (2015-16, Dunwoody High School), Steven Moore (2014-15, Houston County High School), Adam Sheikali (2013-14, McIntosh High School), Salomon Lorenzano (2012-13, McIntosh High School), Holden Fender (2011-12, Walton High School), John "Snoopy" Davidson (2010–11, Rome High School), Jordan McCrary (2009-10, Lassiter High School), Chris Thomas (2008–09, Greater Atlanta Christian School), Connor Barbaree (2007-08, Walton High School), and Jimmy Maurer (2006-07, St. Pius X Catholic School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Jake will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.
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