For the past 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with theGatorade Player of the Year award. On July 14, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2014-15 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual GatoradeHigh School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
When Jack Harrison was handed this year’s Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year trophy, his Berkshire School (Sheffield, Mass.) teammates seemed more excited than he did. But moments after former Major League Soccer MVP Taylor Twellman delivered the surprise news along with the hardware, the senior midfielder caught on.
“I’m was shocked and I’m a little overwhelmed,” said Harrison, 18, a Wake Forest signee. “I’m very familiar with who’s won this before me. I’ve looked up the names online and it’s an incredible honor. I’m so appreciative and none of this would have happened without my teammates, my mom, my coach and this school.”
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior midfielder led the Bears to a 19-2-1 record and a third straight New England Prep School Athletic Council Class A championship this past season. Harrison scored 16 goals and passed for 27 assists, including seven game-winning tallies. He was one of only two players in the country to be selected as an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for both high school and club soccer.
Harrison, 18, has maintained a B average in the classroom. An elected senior leader, he serves as a school tour guide and has also volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach. A two-time New England champion as a three-year varsity squash standout, Harrison also rides for the Bears’ varsity mountain-biking team and owns the school’s course record. He has donated his time further as a participant in multiple community-service initiatives as part of the Berkshire Helping Hands organization.
“Jack has great vision and the ability direct a game, or even take over a game from his midfield role,” says Sheldon Shealer, High School Senior Editor for TopDrawerSoccer.com. “His technical skills are exceptional and he plays well with both feet. He has a knack for delivering key passes, tackles and shots, and he’s proven to be a winner. He is a complete player who certainly has the attributes to be a professional someday.”
Harrison concluded his prep soccer career with 44 goals and 65 assists as the program went 69-8-3 in his tenure and finished as the nation’s No. 1-ranked prep school team three times. Seven of his assists as a senior also came on game-winning goals. A Best XI honoree at the High School All-American Game, he was the 2014 Boston Globe All-Scholastic Prep School Offensive Player of the Year and is rated the nation’s No. 30 recruit in the Class of 2015 by College Soccer News.