CHICAGO (June, 23, 2022) (Gatorade P.R.) — In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Autumn Cayelli of T.L. Hanna High School is the 2021-22 Gatorade South Carolina Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Cayelli is the second Gatorade South Carolina Girls Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from T.L. Hanna 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 Cayelli as South Carolina’s best high school girls soccer player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award to be announced in June, Cayelli joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Alexi Lalas (1987-88, Cranbrook High School, Mich.), Steve Cherundolo (1996-97, Mt. Carmel High School, Calif.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy School of Young Women, N.Y.), Heather O’Reilly (2001-02 & 2002-03, East Brunswick High School, N.J.), Matt Besler (2004-05, Blue Valley West High School, Kans.), Jack Harrison (2013-14, Berkshire High School, Mass.) and Mallory Pugh (2014-15, Mountain Vista High School, Colo.).
The 5-foot-6 junior forward and midfielder scored 49 goals and passed for four assists this past season, leading the Yellow Jackets 15-8-1) to the Class 5A state championship game. Cayelli was named Class 5A Player of the Year by the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports. She is also a two-time All-State honoree.
The vice president of her school’s Student Council, Cayelli has volunteered locally on behalf of youth soccer camps, Meals on Wheels and the American Cancer Society’s Lights of Hope. “I’ve coached for 29 years and Autumn Cayelli is one of the best players I’ve seen,” said Mike Burris, head coach at Wren High sCHOOL. “We had her man-marked, but she moved around so much we couldn’t contain her. She’ll be a professional one day.”
Cayelli has maintained a 3.91 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her senior year of high school 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 the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
Cayelli joins recent Gatorade South Carolina Girls Soccer Players of the Year Alarie Hodge (2020-21, James Island Charter High School), Miya Poplin (2019-20, Hilton Head Island High School), Caroline Conti (2018-19, J.L. Mann Academy), and Riane Coman (2017-18, Academic Magnet High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Gatorade has a long-standing history of serving athlete communities and understands how sports instill valuable lifelong skills on and off the field. Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Cayelli has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Cayelli is also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.
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.