Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Graham baseball star is Gatorade NC Player of the year

In its 25th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announcedMatt Roberts of Graham High School as its 2009-10 Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year. Roberts is the second Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year to be chosen from Graham 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 Roberts as North Carolina’s best high school baseball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award announced in June, Roberts joins an elite alumni association of past state baseball award winners, including Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Roy Halladay (1994-95, Arvada West HS, Colo.), David Price (2003-04, Blackman HS, Tenn.), Chipper Jones (1989-90, Bolles School, Fla.), Derek Lee (1992-93, El Camino HS, Calif.) and John Lester (2001-02, Bellarmine Prep, Wash.).

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior catcher batted .500 with 56 RBI, 34 runs scored, 20 intentional walks, 13 doubles and 11 home runs this season, leading the Red Devils (20-11) to the Class 2A state championship series, scheduled to begin June 4. A Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason Second Team All-America honoree, Roberts pitched for the first time this spring in the Class 2A Eastern Regional final, striking out 11 while allowing just three hits over six innings in an 11-6 victory against Farmville Central. Also a returning Class 2A First Team All-State selection and the 2009 Mid-State Conference Player of the Year, he batted .409 with 22 RBI, 22 runs scored and eight home runs as a junior.

Roberts has maintained a 3.56 weighted GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a mentor to local elementary school students, he has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics and the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

“He has been a high-profile athlete since he has stepped foot on this campus, but has continued to hold our team values at the top of his list,” said Graham Head Coach Chad Holland. “There aren’t many athletes of his status that can say that. He has matched his talent and ability with effort and hard work on the practice field and in the weight room. He is one of the best kids I have had the privilege of coaching.”

Roberts has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at the University of North Carolina this fall, but is projected as an early round selection in this month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

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 ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Roberts joins recent Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Players of the Year Brian Goodwin (2008-09, Rocky Mount), Tyler Hanover (2007-08, North Davidson) and Madison Bumgarner (2006-07, South Caldwell) among the state’s list of former award winners.