In its 37th year of honoring the nation's most elite high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Juliette Whittaker of Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville, Md. is the 2021-22 Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Player of the Year. Whittaker won the prestigious award for her accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Players of the Year who have combined for 71 gold medals and 34 National Championships.
Whittaker was surprised with the trophy by her family, coaches and teammates at school. Check out a video of the announcement here
.See Juliette on ESPN here.
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 Whittaker as the nation's best high school girls track and field player. The Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others to evaluate candidates, selected Whittaker from more than half a million other student-athletes who compete in girls track and field nationwide.
Competition for the national award was fierce. Whittaker topped the list of state winners in girls track and field who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including 26 who are committed to Division 1 colleges and universities, 12 returning state Gatorade Players of the Year and 35 with a GPA of 3.75 and above.
“Juliette Whittaker had already established herself as one of the elite middle-distance athletes in U.S. prep history by advancing to the 800-meter semifinals at last year's Olympic Trials,” said Erik Boal, an editor for DyeStat. “But following her mile victory at June’s Brooks PR Invitational and a pair of sub-two minute efforts in the 800 during this past outdoor season—capped by her national high school record performance at the USATF U20 Championships in Oregon—she has elevated herself into the ranks of the all-time greatest high school competitors, regardless of gender or event. She is poised to make a significant impact at Stanford as the leader of one of the deepest recruiting classes in that program’s history.”
The 5-foot-8 senior set a meet record in the 800-meter run at June’s USATF U20 Outdoor Championships, clocking a 1:59.04 to shave nearly a half-second off the previous high school record, set in 2013. The state’s returning Gatorade Player of the Year in girls track and field, Whittaker also ran four of the U.S. Top-50 prep times from 400 meters to a mile in 2022, including the seventh-fastest mile in girls high school history. In addition, she broke the tape in the 800, 1600 and 3200 at the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championships, leading her team to the title.
The president of her class, Whittaker has volunteered locally at a soup kitchen and as a peer tutor.
Whittaker has maintained a weighted 4.46 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete on an athletic scholarship at Stanford University this fall.
“Sports make a powerful difference in the lives of student-athletes, teaching lifelong lessons and skills such as teamwork, dedication and self-confidence,” said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Kalen Thornton. “Juliette Whittaker exemplifies the positive impact sports can have on a person and their broader community,
and we welcome her to the Gatorade Player of the Year family.”
Each year, a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent to choose one state winner from each of the 50 states as well as Washington D.C., in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track & field. In all, 608 athletes are honored each year. From the pool of state winners, one national winner is selected in each of the 12 sports.
Gatorade has a long-standing history of serving athlete communities and understands how sports instill valuable lifelong skills on and off the field. Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com or follow us on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade and Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.