Each year, the Gatorade company recognizes top high school student athletes from across the nation. And for the second time since 2013, a Dunn player is receiving that honor. Gatorade announced this week that Dunn’s Rodney Michael is its 2016-17 California Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
The Gatorade Player of the Year 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 Michael as California’s best high school boys soccer player. Michael is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced later in June.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound senior forward led the Earwigs to a 13-1-1 record and the Southern Section Division 6 tournament championship this past season. Michael scored 22 goals and passed for 14 assists, tallying seven goals in Dunn’s five-game run to the sectional title. The CIF Division 6 Player of the Year, Michael scored the game-winning goal in the sectional title game in both 2015 and 2017. He concluded his prep soccer career with 74 goals and 43 assists.
A native of Sierra Leone in West Africa, Michael has volunteered locally as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit cancer research. He has also donated his time distributing goods to the homeless and to the Craig Bellamy Foundation, which runs a soccer academy in Sierra Leone.
Michael has maintained a weighted 3.81 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a national letter of intent to play soccer on scholarship at the University of California, Santa Barbara beginning this fall.
“Rodney was literally quicker on the ball than my defenders were off the ball,” said Sam Mahtani, head coach of Maranatha High School. “I’ve never seen someone move so quickly with such change of speed and direction. He was impossible to defend.”
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Rodney will also 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.