Gatorade has named Sophie Jones of the Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) the 2019 National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
The award, which is presented annually, aims to recognize athletic and academic excellence.
The midfielder led her school to a 20-2-2 record and the Central Coast Section Division I sectional tournament championship as a senior, scoring 18 goals and providing 16 assists in her lone season of high school soccer. As a junior, she competed with the San Jose Earthquakes Academy and was named 2018 United Soccer Coaches Youth Girls National Player of the Year.
"Sophie worked tirelessly to elevate her game year after year, becoming high-impact talent," Gatorade Player of the Year director Chad Konecky said. "She wins balls, finishes, defends, disrupts and creates in transition, and arguably reads the game as well as any U-20 player in the world."
Jones has also been a fixture on the USA's youth national teams and currently trains with the U-20 team. At the 2018 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay, the 5'6" midfielder played every minute of every game. Jones is set to play soccer for Duke next season, joining the fifth-ranked class in the nation.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young, a friend of Jones's family, presented her with the Gatorade award on Wednesday.
"Sophie is super humble, super grounded, and a human you just want to be around," Young said. "When you see great people do great things it's really inspiring, it's great to see what she has done...I'm glad she's getting the award, Gatorade's picking a really great person."
The soccer star has also volunteered with the Special Olympics, and she's maintained a 3.65 GPA. Sports Illustrated spoke with Jones on Wednesday to ask her about the award, past winners and her future career.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Sports Illustrated: What does this award mean to you?
Sophie Jones: It's such an honor to win this award. It's not just for the work on the field, but also off the field and how you affect the community. It's honestly such an incredible experience to win this award.
SI: 11 of the 23 U.S. women's national team players competing in the World Cup are former girls soccer Players of the Year. How does it feel to now share the same title?
SJ: The U.S. women's national team are all role models, such strong women and are so much bigger than just soccer players. Seeing them compete right now in France, and seeing that they were players of the year, is such a cool stat. It makes me want to work harder to maybe one day be where they are.
SI: After playing strictly on club teams, why did you want to play for your high school? How did you find the high school game compared?
SJ: I always knew that playing high school was something that I wanted to experience, but due to club and national team committments it never really worked. Then it was my senior year and we just finished the U-17 World Cup, I had the time and knew I wanted to do it. It was so fun—I'm so happy I decided to play.
It was definitely an adjustment after the World Cup, which was the highest level for our age group. It was really cool because it allowed me to work on other aspects of my game like controlling the ball in the air and focusing on taking shots, which I didn't get to as much in club and national team environments.
SI: How have your experiences with the U-17 and U-20 national teams shaped you as an athlete?
SJ: Coming to camps and surrounding yourself with players who are better than you forces you to be a better player—seeing so much talent and how they work, taking some of those tidbits and applying those to yourself.
SI: What drew you to Duke and its program?
SJ: I loved the coaching staff. I loved the culture of the school, when you walk around everyone is wearing Duke gear. I went to a basketball game and it was one of the most energentic experiences of my life. I said to myself, "I have to go here."
SI: What do you hope to accomplish during your first year at Duke?
SJ: It's so rigorous in the classroom—I think trying to do well in the classroom and hopefully find what I want to major in. On the field I want to work hard and do whatever I can to help the team, whether that's cheering as loud as I can on the bench or getting minutes in and affecting change that way.