Nieva Gaither of Parkview is the Gatorade Georgia girls soccer player of the year.
Gaither, a 5-foot-3 sophomore forward, led the Panthers to a 23-1 record and the Class AAAAAAA championship this year. Gaither scored 37 goals and passed for 10 assists, including one of each in Parkview’s 2-0 win over Milton in the title game.
Gaither recorded at least one point in all 24 games with 11 multi-goal games. She concluded her sophomore year with 51 goals and 21 assists in her prep soccer career.
“Nieva Gaither had a great season,” said Randy Hayes, head coach of Whitewater High. “She can control the tempo of the game and she rarely lost the ball She is a very dangerous player who elevates those around her.”
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.
Gaither has maintained a 3.94 GPA in the classroom. She has made a verbal commitment to play soccer on scholarship at Furman University beginning in the fall of 2020.
Gaither has volunteered locally at a food bank and with an animal rescue organization. She has also donated her time with Project 101, which gathers school supplies for children in the Philippines.
Gaither joins recent Gatorade state girls soccer players of the year Rachel Jones (2016-17, Collins Hill), Ella Stevens (2015-16 and 2014-15, Grayson), Jennifer Westendorf (2013-14, Grayson), Rachel Garcia (2012-13, Greater Atlanta Christian), Emily Sonnett (2011-12, Fellowship Christian), Morgan Brian (2010–11 & 2009-10, Frederica Academy), Laura Eddy (2008–09, Marist), Ashley Baker (2007-08, Parkview) and Marah Falle (2006-07, Parkview) among the state’s list of former award winners.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Gaither will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.
Gaither is a finalist for the Gatorade national player of the year award to be announced later this month.