In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade announced Parker Bracken of Jackson Academy as its 2020-21 Gatorade Mississippi Volleyball Player of the Year. Parker is the third JA student to receive a Gatorade Player of the Year award in recent years. Parker has been named Gatorade Player of the Year two years in a row. JA will recognize Parker at a ceremony Wednesday, May 12 at break.
Gatorade says 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 Parker as Mississippi’s best high school volleyball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award to be announced in May, she joins an elite alumni association of state award winners in 12 sports.
The 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter led the Raiders to a 29-4 record and the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools championship this past season. The state’s returning Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year, Parker amassed 473 kills, 330 digs, 107 service aces and 33 blocks, while posting a hitting percentage of .464. A Clarion Ledger First Team All-State selection and the MAIS Player of the Year, she was named a MaxPreps First Team All-American and a 2020-21 Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American.
Parker has served as a mentor for elementary school students and has volunteered locally on behalf of Operation Christmas Child and youth volleyball programs. She has maintained a 3.84 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play beach volleyball on scholarship at Louisiana State University this fall.
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 the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Parker joins JA’s Gatorade Mississippi Volleyball Player of the Year Conley Chinn (2015-16) and JA’s two-time Gatorade Mississippi Cross Country Player of the Year winner Curt Knight (2013-14 and 2014-15) as JA’s recent winners.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Parker has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Parker is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.