February 27th, 2012
Henley Named Gatorade Player Of Year
St. Xavier senior recognized as Kentucky's top player
In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Neil Henley of St. Xavier High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Kentucky Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Henley is the fourth Gatorade Kentucky Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from St. Xavier High School.
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 Henley as Kentucky’s best high school boys soccer player.
Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in May, Henley joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook HS, Mich.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02, East Brunswick HS, N.J.) and Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.).
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior forward led the Tigers to a 27-1-1 record and the state championship this past season. Henley scored 29 goals and passed for 18 assists, including eight goals and eight assists in eight postseason games. A two-time First Team All-State selection and a 2011 All-Tournament honoree, Henley was an All-South Region pick by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
He concluded his prep soccer career with 49 goals and 32 assists. Henley has maintained an A average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally at the Louisville Zoo, as a youth soccer coach and on behalf of fundraising campaigns to benefit cancer research and the hungry.
“Neil Henley isn’t a flashy player, but he is fast, can score from anywhere, has great size for balls in the air and also plays physical without playing dirty,” said Brian Durbin, head coach of Oldham County High. “He works off the ball to get open and creates offense for his team.”
Henley has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at Xavier University this fall.
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 ESPNHS 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.
Henley joins recent Gatorade Kentucky Boys Soccer Players of the Year Oliver Brown (2010 – 11, St. Xavier), Lepe Seetane, (2009-10, Trinity High School), Kevin Bick (2008–09, 2007-08 St. Xavier), and Josh Lipka (2006-2007, Lexington Catholic) among the state’s list of former award winners.