Spain Park standout named Gatorade Player of the Year

Published 11:22 am Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spain Park High School junior Annalika Steyn was recently named the 2009-2010 Gatorade Player of the Year in girls’ soccer in the state of Alabama.

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 Steyn as Alabama’s best high school girls soccer player. Steyn is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National girls’ soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in May.

The 5-foot-8 junior forward led the Jaguars (23-4-2) to their second straight Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championship this past season, recording 19 goals and nine assists. A two-time MVP of the Class 6A state tournament, Steyn scored both goals for Spain Park in its 2-1 win over Grissom in the state championship game. Steyn, who is a three-year member of the U.S. Youth Soccer Region II Olympic Development Program, has recorded 38 goals and 20 assists in her prep career.

Steyn has maintained a B average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally with the Special Olympics, as a youth soccer instructor and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with her church youth group.

“Annalika’s physical presence—she’s so big and strong, and she’s so technical for a big, strong girl—is impressive,” said Eric Dade, director of coaching for the Birmingham United Soccer Association club program. “She’s got a good sense of the game. She has all the tools.”

Steyn has verbally committed to play soccer on scholarship at the University of West Virginia beginning in the fall of 2011.

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 ESPN RISE 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.

Steyn joins Spain Park teammate Lauren Arnold as a recent Gatorade Alabama girls’ soccer Player of the Year. Arnold won the award following the 2008-2009 season.