In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Drew Conner of as its 2011-12 Gatorade Illinois Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Conner is the first Gatorade Illinois Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Cary-Grove 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 Conner as Illinois’ 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, Conner 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, 165-pound senior midfielder scored 14 goals and passed for 17 assists this past season, leading the Trojans (17-3) to the regional final in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional Tournament.
The Northwest Herald Boys Soccer Player of the Year and a First Team All-State selection, Conner did not play high school soccer as a junior, suiting up instead for Schwaben in the Metropolitan Soccer League, an amateur adult men’s club.
Conner has maintained a B average in the classroom. He founded a local charitable initiative, Boots for Bolivia, which donates soccer equipment and clothes to needy children in Bolivia, and he has volunteered locally donating and wrapping holiday presents for under-privileged children.“Drew Conner elevated that team in a huge way,” said Scott Steib, Barrington High head coach.
“Drew did more for his team because they don’t typically have someone like that. He made all of them better.”Conner has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at the University of Wisconsin 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 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.
Conner joins recent Gatorade Illinois Boys Soccer Players of the Year Vince Cicciarelli (2010 – 11, Peoria Notre Dame High School), Bryan Ciesiulka, (2009-10, Neuqua Valley High School), Tim Zimmer (2008–09 Naperville Central), JohnShakon (2007-08, Hinsdale Central), and Anthony Colaizzi (2006-2007, Warren Township) among the state’s list of former award winners.
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For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.
Source: Ashley Ginascol for Gatorade