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Valley’s Eric Williams Named Gatorade Iowa Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Valley senior Eric Williams has been named the 2011-12 Gatorade Iowa Boys Soccer Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to a 12-5 record and a sub-state tournament berth. The Tigers will face the winner of Des Moines East and Ottumwa at Valley Stadium at 6:30 p.m. May 23. Valley will be vying for its fourth consecutive state tournament berth.

Williams is the sixth Gatorade Iowa Boys Soccer Player of the Year from Valley, which now has the most honorees in the history of the award. He joins alums Nick Olivencia (1997), Greg Weiler (1998), Ben Brackett (2002), Nickolas Retzlaff (2003) and Mark Halma (2005). He is also the second Valley athlete awarded the honor this year, as junior Ben Anderson was named the 2011-12 Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year in January. 

“Eric has what it takes to succeed,” said Valley head boys soccer coach Aziz Haffar. “He has distinguished himself as a scholar-athlete at Valley High School. Just as he places academics above all other pursuits, so does Eric as a student in the very demanding education program. He places his scholarly endeavors above the many organizations, activities, and sports teams of which he is an active member. His demanding academic program is a good preparation for the rigors of the working world and serves to compliment is already established work ethic.”

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward has scored 14 goals and passed for 11 assists. A 2011 second team all-state selection and a two-time first team all-Central Iowa Metropolitan League honoree, he has 41 goals and 23 assists in his prep soccer career. Williams has signed on to play soccer at Drake University in the fall.

“I am thrilled for Eric,” said Drake head soccer coach Sean Holmes. “I think this is a well-deserved honor for him. He is a great kid from a great family. I am so proud he is going to be a Bulldog.”

The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. 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 ESPNHS 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.