Jess Mruzik Named National Volleyball Player of the Year
Posted on January 24, 2020, 4:00 am
In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Jess Mruzik of Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Mich. is the 2019-20 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year. Mruzik won the prestigious award for her accomplishments on and off the court joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year winners who have combined for 89 gold medals and 13 National Championships.
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.
Competition for the national award is fierce. Mruzik topped the list of 51 state winners in volleyball who have an incredible list of accomplishments, including 15 All-Americans, 27 All-State, 10 Big Ten committees, 15 with a GPA of 3.8 or higher and 40 volunteering with at least two organizations.
Mruzik 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.
“I first saw Jess as an eighth grader, when she was dominating older players on the club circuit,” says John Tawa, Managing Editor for PrepVolleyball.com. “Not only had she already begun to flash the all-around skillset that overwhelms opponents today, but she also showed the grit and determination that all great athletes possess. Even at a young age, she understood that need to expect more of herself than others because of the extraordinary gifts she owned.”
The state’s returning Gatorade Player of the Year and 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter led the Marlins to a 59-1 record and the Division 1 state championship this past season. Mruzik compiled 495 kills, 209 digs, 47 service aces and 19 blocks while posting a dizzying .635 kill percentage and a .540 hitting percentage. The captain of the USA Volleyball Youth National Team, Mruzik missed 16 matches in September while leading Team USA to the gold medal at the FIVB Girls U18 World Championships in Egypt, earning tournament MVP honors in the process. 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 on scholarship at the University of Michigan this fall, though she matriculated at Ann Arbor on Jan. 9.
“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 twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners 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 and field. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year.
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, Karl-Anthony Towns, Derek Jeter 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 www.Gatorade.com/POY, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.