CHICAGO (June 16, 2022) — In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Fabian Menendez of Riverside High School is the 2021-22 Gatorade South Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Menendez is the second Gatorade South Carolina Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Riverside 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 Menendez as South Carolina’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 June, Menendez 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-7, 145-pound junior midfielder scored 20 goals and passed for 10 assists this past season, leading the Warriors (21-1) to the Class 5A state championship and a No. 1 ranking nationally according to MaxPreps. A First Team All-State honoree, Menendez is the Region 2 Player of the Year. He is also a member of Puerto Rico’s U20 National Team.
A member of the National Art Honor Society, Menendez has served as a mentor for young soccer players and has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple community service initiatives. “Fabian Menendez stands out on a team full of quality players,” said Josh Eskew, head coach at Dorman High School. “He makes every other player around him better. I can say without hesitation that he was the best boys soccer player in South Carolina this year.”
Menendez has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. He will begin his 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.
Menendez joins recent Gatorade South Carolina Boys Soccer Players of the Year Jackson Price (2020-21, A.C. Flora High School), Ben Erkens (2019-20 & 2018-19, Wade Hampton High School), and Charlie Marino (2017-18, Wando 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, Menendez 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. Menendez 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.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com or follow us on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade and Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.