Giving through Gatorade

Alumna athlete advocates for donation grant

There are 450,000 high school volleyball players in the country.

A total of 51 players get selected for Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year.

That’s .01 percent of all players.

Averi Carlson was selected as Gatorade National Volleyball player of the year.

When setter Averi walked into the main gym on Jan. 11, she thought she would be interviewed for the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year award. Instead, her coach would announce that she won the National award.

“I was so shocked,” Carlson said. “ When coach Puckett announced that I got the award, I was in total shock. I didn’t believe it at all. There are no words to describe how amazing it felt.”

Head Volleyball coach Natalie Puckett announced Carlson’s award in the main gym in front of the rest of the volleyball team, the current coaching staff and her old coaches on Jan 11. Gatorade announced the award publicly on Jan. 12.

“We’re all super proud of her,” junior volleyball player Charlotte Wilson said.” She’s the most deserving person of this award. Averi is super easy to play with, and she makes everyone look super good, just because she is such a good player. She has a really good energy, and she’s a really good leader on and off the court.”

Carlson is a four-time All-American Volleyball Star and finished this season with 4,488 career assists. She has 919 assists, 378 digs, 212 kills and 72 service aces. 

“[Volleyball] has been amazing,” Carlson said. “I’ve had so much fun. I’ve made so many friendships and being able to play for your school is amazing. The community is so close. Playing volleyball in high school is awesome; I’ve loved it.” 

Carlson graduated in December and will begin her first semester at Baylor on Thursday after signing with them on Nov. 10 last year.

“I’m so excited to be [at Baylor],” Carlson said. “I love the coaches and the girls. I’m so excited to learn more from these coaches. I’m really hopeful for my future here and I’m so excited to get into the program.”

As Gatorade Volleyball State Player of the Year, Carlson had the chance to nominate a youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 donation through the Gatorade Play it Forward Program. Carlson nominated the Mac Gators of ICAN, a special needs sports organization, to receive the $1,000 donation. The money will help pay for the team to compete in USA Volleyball games in Orlando Florida.

“From day one, Averi walked in with a smile on her face,” life skills teacher Amanda Humphries said. “She was not scared to jump in and help our special needs students in any way she could. She always wore a smile and was like a ray of sunshine. She specifically helped kids with their academic success during English class.”

As Gatorade Volleyball National Player of the year, Carlson has the chance to win a $10,000 spotlight grant for her chosen program which Gatorade awards to 12 different players of the year. Gatorade decides who wins the grant through a video advocating for why their chosen organization should receive the grant. Averi just submitted her video yesterday.

“I’ve worked with special needs students for two years,” Carlson said. “I’m in PAWS, so I get to work first hand with them in daily activities and help them get their school work done. I love it. It’s so fun. I thought giving the grant to them would be my favorite thing to do.”