Blessed Trinity sophomore named national girls soccer player of year

Riley Jackson, a Blessed Trinity sophomore midfielder, was named the Gatorade national girls soccer player of the year Thursday. The award was presented to her at her school by National Women’s Soccer League star Mallory Pugh of the Chicago Red Stars.

Jackson is only the ninth sophomore since 1985 to win a Gatorade national award in any sport.

Jackson scored 14 goals and had 18 assists this past season but missed her team’s run to the Class 5A semifinals because she made the U.S. Soccer’s Uner-17 Women’s National Team that won the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament in the Dominican Republic. Jackson was named the tournament’s best player.

Jackson has scored 36 goals with 48 assists in her two high school seasons. The Gatorade award also considers service and character. Jackson has volunteered as a youth soccer instructor and camp coach and she’s also a USSF certified, paid soccer referee. Jackson has maintained a weighted 4.26 GPA in the classroom.

To win the national Gatorade award, Jackson beat out state players of the year that include 38 juniors or seniors committed to play at Division I university or colleges.

“Riley Jackson is that rare player who can influence the outcome of the game without showing up on the scoresheet,” said J.R. Eskilson, a national soccer analyst for “She’s one of the best passers in high school soccer, identifying through-ball channels that few players can envision, and she has the skill to put those passes into tight windows. She also has the elegance on the ball to make everything look effortless, but there is so much sophistication in how she approaches the game.”

Each year, a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent to choose one state winner from each of the 50 states as well as Washington D.C., 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 & field. In all, 608 athletes are honored each year. From the pool of state winners, one national winner is selected in each of the 12 sports.

Gatorade National Players of the Year – All-Time Sophomore Recipients

  • Riley Jackson (GA) – Girls Soccer, 2021-22
  • Alyssa Thomason (CA) – Girls Soccer, 2020-21
  • Emoni Bates (MI) – Boys Basketball, 2019-20
  • Azzi Fudd (DC) – Girls Basketball, 2017-18
  • Katelyn Tuohy (NY) – Girls Cross Country & Girls Track and Field, 2017-18
  • Kennedy Wesley (CA) – Girls Soccer, 2016-17
  • Candace Hill (GA) – Girls Track and Field, 2014-15
  • Lucas Verzbicas (IL) – Boys Cross Country, 2009-10
  • Marion Jones (CA) – Girls Track and Field, 1990-91