A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this spring's Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
THE WINNER: Holden Fender
School: Walton (Marietta, Ga.)
Weight: 175 pounds
Athletic achievement: Fender scored 10 goals and passed for 13 assists this past season, leading the Raiders (12-6-1) to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals. A member of the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Men’s National Team and a 2011 Youth All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, he was a Class AAA First Team All-State honoree as a junior. Fender concluded his prep soccer career with 22 goals and 32 assists.
Academic excellence: Fender has maintained a 3.56 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally with the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer program serving young athletes with disabilities in addition to donating his time as a youth coach and mentor.
“Holden has a couple of strengths that set him apart from the rest,” said Gregg Blasingame, the director of coaching for the Concorde Fire club program. “He totally controls the tempo of the game. He knows when to slow it down or pick up the pace. He reads the game very well and can switch the play better than any midfielder I’ve seen.”
THE FUTURE: Fender has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at UCLA this fall.