The Gatorade Player of the Year program is celebrating its 25th year in recognizing elite high school athletes throughout the nation. The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one award-winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school boys football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, boys baseball, girls softball and boys and girls track & field.
This week Oakland native and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Leon Powe helped surprise Ashton Purvis of Oakland, CA with the 2009-10 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award. Leon surprised Ashton with great news at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, where Ashton was guest-teaching the Pathway to College class. Leon earned Gatorade California Boys Basketball Player of the Year himself honors in 2002-03.
Ashton, a 5-foot-8 senior sprinter, won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.17 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 22.90 at the California Interscholastic Federation state championship meet this spring, leading the Mustangs to a fifth-place finish as a team. Her 200-meter time ranks as the nation’s No. 1 clocking among prep competitors in 2010, while her 100-meter time ranked No. 2. Ashton’s season-best 100 ranks sixth in prep history and only eight prep girls have ever run a faster 200.
In celebration of the larger 25th anniversary, Gatorade is hosting an online poll, which will allow you to decide the greatest girls track & field athlete of all time. You can cast your vote for your favorite athlete of all-time once per day at http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com/25th/vote/.