COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 22, 2020) – Jess Mruzik, who helped lead the U.S. Girls Youth National Team to a historic gold medal at the 2019 FIVB Girls U18 World Championship last September, has been selected as the 2019-20 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year representing high school athletes across the country.
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 Mruzik as the nation’s best high school volleyball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Mruzik from nearly half a million high school volleyball players nationwide.
Mruzik topped the list of 51 Gatorade State players of the year in volleyball, which included 15 all-Americans and 15 athletes with a GPA of 3.8 or higher. She is now a finalist for the most prestigious award in high school sports, the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, which is announced at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
“There have been so many great college athletes and volleyball players and amazing people who have won this award before me, just to be even considered for this award is such an unreal experience,” Mruzik said. “This is definitely the best way possible to cap off my high school career and hopefully keep it rolling as I go to Michigan.”
Mruzik, who played her club volleyball for Legacy Volleyball Club, was named most valuable player at the FIVB Girls U18 World Championship where she ranked 12th overall in scoring with 76 kills, 11 blocks and 10 aces. The gold was USA Volleyball’s first-ever in age-group World Championship indoor competition for either gender.
“I’m very pleased that Jess has been recognized as the Gatorade National Player of the Year,” said Jim Stone, who served as the head coach for the 2019 U.S. Girls Youth National Team. “She was certainly a key part of the USA U-18 team winning the FIVB World Championship. What the general public does not see is the work ethic that Jess displays on a daily basis, along with her commitment to team success. I am 100% confident that Jess will continue her high level of play in her collegiate career, along with participation in future USA programs.”
Mruzik, who also won Michigan’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018-19, led Mercy High School (Farmington Hills, Michigan) to a 59-1 record and the Division 1 state championship this past season. She compiled 495 kills, 209 digs, 47 service aces and 19 blocks while posting a dizzying 63.5 kill percent and a .540 hitting percentage. Mruzik missed 16 matches during her senior campaign in while leading Team USA to gold at the World Championship. She concluded her prep volleyball career with 2,151 kills.
A member of the Science Club and Spirit Club, Mruzik participated in a community cleanup effort sponsored by Mercy High School and has also donated her time instructing youth players in association with her volleyball club team as well as assisting with her local grade school volleyball program. She has also served as part of a local quilting initiative to benefit children of families in need. Mruzik has maintained a 3.47 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at the University of Michigan and is already enrolled and taking classes.
“Gatorade Player of the Year is the most prestigious award in high school sports and recognizes only the best and brightest,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “We selected Jess Mruzik not only for her athletic talent, but also for outstanding academic achievement and exemplary character.”
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Mruzik has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Previous Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Winners
Year: Athlete (Hometown) – Post High School Level
2018-19: Ellie Holzman (New Orleans, La.) – University of Illinois
2017-18: Thayer Hall (Roebuck, S.C.) – University of Florida
2016-17: Lexi Sun (Solana Beach, Calif.) – University of Nebraska
2015-16: Khalia Lanier (Phoenix, Ariz.) – University of Southern California
2014-15: Mikaela Foecke Richter (West Point, Iowa) – U.S. Women’s National Team
2013-14: Alexa Filley (Louisville, Ky.) – played for Auburn University
2012-13: Lauren Carlini (Aurora, Ill.) – U.S. Women’s National Team
2011-12: Jordan Burgess (Tampa, Fla.) – played for Stanford University
2010-11: Krista Vansant (Redlands, Calif.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2009-10: Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) – played for University of Minnesota
2008-09: Gina Mancuso (Papillion, Neb.) – played for University of Nebraska
2007-08: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2006-07: Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) – played for U.S. Women’s National; U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Team
2005-06: Megan Hodge Easy (Durham, N.C.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2004-05: Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2003-04: Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2002-03: Kristin Richards Hildebrand (Orem, Utah) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
2001-02: Bre Ladd (Tucson, Ariz.) – played for University of Arizona
2000-01: Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
1999-00: April Ross (Newport Beach, Calif.) – U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Team
1998-99: Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team
1997:98: Sara Sandrik (Pelham, Ala.) – played for Stanford University
1996-97: Denise Boylan (Lisle, Ill.) – played for University of Notre Dame
1995-96: Kerri Walsh Jennings (San Jose, Calif.) – played for U.S. Women’s National Team; U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Team