It is not every day you receive an email from a former player! Below was sent to Susie Margotta, GBYLA Operations Director, from Alex Leath, a former Vestavia Hills lacrosse player.
‘My name is Alex Leath and I played for Vestavia Hills in the GBYLA from 2012-2018. I decided to leave lacrosse and pursue my dream in track and field. Next year I will be attending The University of Virginia to compete on the track and field team. With all that said, this year I won the Alabama Boys Track and Field Gatorade Player of the Year. One of the awards granted to the winners is the ability to donate $1,000 to a local sports charity of the winner’s choosing. I was wondering if the GBYLA foundation would like to be the beneficiary of the $1,000 I have been allotted. Lacrosse was the first sport that I really fell in love with. It was my lacrosse coaches who first pointed out to me that I might have talent in running as they watched me chase a lacrosse ball up and down the field. Because of them, I decided to try cross country, and the rest is history.
The sport of lacrosse, and specifically GBYLA, was an important part of my athletic development and I would like to give back to the organization that has meant so much to me.’
Gatorade Player of the Year Overview
As one of the most prestigious high school sports awards in the nation, the Gatorade Player of the Year
program celebrates young athletes on their journey to greatness. The Gatorade Player of the Year award
recognizes athletes not just for their excellence on the playing surface, but for their commitment in the
classroom and impact in their community. For nearly 40 years, Gatorade has honored high school athletes at
the top of their game as teammates, building an all-star roster of alumni that have reached the heights of
greatness or are well on their way, including Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Elena Delle Donne, Paige
Bueckers, Nick Singleton and Gradey Dick. From CEOs and coaches to star athletes and community leaders,
Gatorade Player of the Year winners showcase the power sport.
Each year, a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent to choose one state winner from each 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 state winners, one national winner is selected in each of
the 12 sports.
Gatorade Play It Forward Overview
In the last decade, youth participation in sports has been on a double-digit decline, largely due to a lack of
resources and limited access to athletic programs. This is an unfortunate reality because young people that
participate in sports are found to be happier, healthier and better students. To help reverse this trend,
Gatorade launched Gatorade Play It Forward, an initiative that empowers athletes to give back to sports
programs in their communities to fuel the future of sport.
The Gatorade Play It Forward program gives Gatorade Player of the Year athletes the opportunity to provide
resources to youth athletes in their community by helping youth-based sports organizations and their
Through the Gatorade Play It Forward program, all 608 Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients are
empowered to award a $1,000 grant from Gatorade to a local or national organization that helps young
athletes realize the benefits of playing sports.
Gatorade State Players of the Year may also submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose
is deserving of one of 12 Spotlight Grants, which awards $10,000 to the organization.
Thank you Alex for giving back to the game of lacrosse!