Special Olympics MA benefits from Gatorade Play it Forward 2019

Barnstable High School student-athlete awards Special Olympics Massachusetts Grant through Gatorade

Riley James, Gatorade Player of the Year, and a friend Barnstable High School senior and Massachusetts Volleyball Gatorade State Player of the Year, Riley James, awarded Special Olympics Massachusetts with a $1,000 grant to help accomplish our mission of promoting inclusion and providing sports and wellness opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. James is the ninth Gatorade Massachusetts Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from Barnstable High School.

Sports have seen a double-digit decline over the past decade, largely due to tighter budgets in communities, but young people that participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. Gatorade Play It Forward empowers Gatorade Player of the Year recipients across the country to award local or national sports organizations with grants, so they can continue helping young athletes enjoy the benefit of sports.

The Gatorade Player of the Year award highlights student-athletes who set an example both on and off the field” said Amanda Turak, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “The grants give these athletes a chance to donate to organizations like, Special Olympics Massachusetts, that positively impact the youth in their own communities.”

Massachusetts’ returning Gatorade Player of the Year, the 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter recorded 435 kills and 193 digs this past season, leading the Red Raiders (23-1) to the Division 1 state championship match. James also tallied 43 service aces while posting a .559 kill percentage and a .456 hitting percentage. An American Volleyball Coaches Association First Team All-American selection, James was also the Boston Globe Division 1 Player of the Year. She concluded her prep volleyball career with a state-record 1,729 kills along with 889 digs.

An intern with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, James has volunteered locally with the Special Olympics and as a youth volleyball coach. “Riley is an amazing player,” said Rachel Lassey, head coach of Dartmouth High School. “She can crush a ball anywhere on the court. Not only is she strong offensively, she’s also a beast on defense.”

James has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at Bryant University this fall.

All 607 Gatorade State Player of the Year recipients are awarded a grant to donate to the organization of their choosing. Each Player of the Year can also submit an essay about why their organization is deserving of a Spotlight Grant, which is a larger monetary award. Gatorade awards 12 Spotlight Grants, one for each sport recognized by the Player of the Year program.

About Gatorade Player of the Year

The Gatorade Player of the Year is an athletic award program that annually recognizes student-athletes not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character in 12 different sports: football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, boys and girls soccer, softball, boys and girls track & field, girls volleyball and boys and girls cross country. The Gatorade Player of the Year award is the most prestigious award in high school sports. In existence for more than 30 years, past winners include Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter and many other sports icons.

Play It Forward is Gatorade’s cause marketing platform, which empowers every one of the Gatorade Player of the Year award winners to choose a local or national youth sport organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade. Gatorade State Players of the Year then have the opportunity to submit an essay explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve Spotlight Grants, which awards $10,000 to the organization.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter #GatoradePOY. For more on Gatorade Play It Forward, the Gatorade Player of the Year, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit PlayerOfTheYear.Gatorade.com

*Portions of this blog were provided by Gatorade


One response to “Special Olympics MA benefits from Gatorade Play it Forward 2019”

  1. Andrew Cormier says:

    Congrats to Riley. Best of luck going forward.