(WTNH)–The Hotchkiss School’s Umar Farouk Osman was named the Gatorade National Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year on Friday, in a surprise ceremony in which New York City FC midfielder Jack Harrison broke the news to him.
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 Osman as the nation’s best high school boys soccer player.
A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Osman from nearly 432,000 high school boys soccer players nationwide. Osman is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 5-foot-9 senior midfielder scored 19 goals and passed for nine assists this past season, lifting The Hotchkiss School Bearcats to a 6-9-2 record.
Osman – who is also the 2016 Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association’s Player of the Year – had a direct hand in 28 of Hotchkiss’ 30 goals on the season. He participated in the High School All-American Game in North Carolina in December and concluded his prep soccer career with 63 goals and 45 assists.
A dorm proctor at Hotchkiss, Osman has volunteered locally as part of a fundraising campaign to provide school uniforms, backpacks and books to children in his native Ghana. He has maintained a B average in the classroom.
“Umar is simply a magician with the ball,” said TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Senior Editor for High Schools Sheldon Shealer. “At the High School All-American Game, his talent stood out in a crowd of NCAA Division I-bound players.
He has exceptional pace and quick change of direction. He’s very crafty in tight spaces and has the ability to leave defenders tripping over their feet.”
Umar has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on scholarship at the University of Michigan beginning this fall.
“Umar is an exceptional student-athlete who has earned recognition as the nation’s best high school boys soccer player while also excelling in the classroom and making a difference in his native Ghana,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien.
“Umar’s statistics on the field speak for themselves, but even more impressive is the impact he has had on his teammates and the example he sets for younger student-athletes. Umar represents everything we look to celebrate in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.”
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Osman also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for his organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
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 the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, 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.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
• Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
• 2015 NBA first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns
• Three-time WNBA champion Maya Moore
• Seven-time track & field gold medalist Allyson Felix
• Three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh
• Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw