Oak Mountain’s Payne wins Gatorade award
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Oak Mountain’s Toni Payne has been named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the State of Alabama in girls’ soccer.
The award, which is given in a partnership between the Gatorade high school sports leadership team and media outlet USA TODAY, is designed to recognize outstanding on field play, high academic achievement and exemplary character off the field.
Payne, who scored 47 goals and passed for 35 assists on the season, led Oak Mountain to a runner-up finish in the 6A State Championship game and also played on the U.S. Soccer under-20 Women’s National team.
She finished with 141 goals for her career at OMHS.
Oak Mountain girls’ head coach Pete Dakis said the Eagles’ success this season was due in large part to Payne’s play.
“She was a critical part of our run this year,” he said. “Her work ethic is unbelievable. She had a huge impact.”
Hoover coach Todd Schaefer said Payne’s impact on the Eagles was immeasurable.
“What makes Toni so dangerous is her ability on the ball,” he said. “It is extremely difficult to take the ball from her. Her foot skills really allow her to hold it. I think she is invaluable when it comes to their success.”
In addition to her on-field prowess, Payne managed a 3.63 GPA, and has volunteered as a teacher in her church’s Children’s Ministry, as well as donating time at a homeless shelter and food bank.
Payne has signed a letter of intent to attend Duke University on a soccer scholarship.
Dakis said he felt her work ethic would lead her to success on the next level as well.
“She give one-hundred percent, both at practice and in a game,” he said. “She’s just a tremendous player.”