Friday, March 11, 2011

Walczak Wins Gatorade Player of the Year


OYSTER RIVER HIGH SCHOOL STANDOUT NAMED GATORADE® NEW HAMPSHIRE GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

CHICAGO (March 10, 2011) — In its 26th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Danielle Walczak of Oyster River High School as its 2010-11 Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Walczak is the first Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Oyster River 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 court, distinguishes Walczak as New Hampshire’s best high school girls basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award announced in March, Walczak joins an elite alumni association of past state girls basketball award-winners, including Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Diana Taurasi (1998-99 & 1999-00, Don Antonio Lugo HS, Calif.), Maya Moore (2005-06 Collins Hill HS, Ga.), Rashanda McCants (2004-05, Asheville HS, N.C.), Shyra Ely (1999-00, Ben Davis HS, Ind.) and Lisa Leslie (1988-89, Morningside HS, Calif.)

The 6-foot-1 senior center averaged 19.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.5 blocks and 3.3 steals per game this past season, leading the Bobcats (14-6) to the Division II state quarterfinals. The two-time returning Class I Player of the Year as named by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization, Walczak recorded a 72.0 field-goal percentage. She produced 16.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per contest as a junior in addition to leading Oyster River to the 2009 Class I state title as a sophomore. Walczak captured 2009 and 2010 Class I First team All-State honors.

Walczak has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom and ranks No. 6 in her graduating class. An active member of her church community, she has donated her time as a youth basketball instructor, as part of a youth literacy-outreach program and on behalf of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

“Danielle Walczak is a terrific ballplayer,” said Steve Smith, head coach of rival Coe-Brown Academy. “We’re archrivals, and we’ve banged heads a bunch. Over the summer, she hit the weight room, got stronger, polished her moves—and there was nothing we could do to stop her this year. When she came after us, we just had to sit back and say, ‘Wow.’ All of my kids have tremendous respect for her. She worked her fanny off in the summer, and it paid off.”

Walczak has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at the University of Maine 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 ESPN RISE 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.

Walczak joins recent Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Basketball Player of the Year, three-time winner Tiffany Ruffin (2007-08, 2008-09 & 2009-10, Winnacunnet) among the state’s list of former award winners.

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.

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