Return of the POY: Nathalie Castellanos

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Volleyball Players of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Name: Nathalie Castellanos

Position: Outside hitter

Grade: Senior

School: Gadsden (N.M.)

College: New Mexico State University (verbal)

Height: 5-foot-10

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade New Mexico Volleyball Player of the Year ... led Panthers (23-1) to the 2010 Class 5A state championship ... 2010 Class 5A State Player of the Year ... 2010 First Team All-State selection ... three-time District 3-5A First Team All-District selection


Academics: 4.11 GPA

Extracurricular activities: peer tutor ... youth volleyball and basketball coach ... fundraising campaign to benefit cancer research

Ben Wallis, head coach of rival Cleveland High: "Nathalie Castellanos won the state championship for Gadsden. She beat us single-handedly. She just took it to another level. Her volleyball IQ is way up there -- she gets it. She was driving our kids nuts."

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning volleyball underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Jordan Bruere SR S Cleveland; Julia Warren JR OH La Cueva; Sarah Hattis SR MB Cleveland; Cassie House JR MB Cleveland; Marissa Calvillo SR OH Cleveland

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf. Candidates are judged upon athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must also demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Any class year is eligible, senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.