Gatorade Player of the Year | 6th Hashtag Sports Awards

Gatorade Player of the Year

Gatorade, PepsiCo

The 6th Annual Awards

Nominee ✨
  • Best Communications Strategy



For nearly 40 years, the Gatorade Player of the Year program has celebrated the nation’s best high school athletes for their success on and off the field of play. The award has cemented itself as the top honor in high school sports for recognizing not only athletic excellence but also academic achievement and exemplary character.

Each year, 12 high school athletes are named Gatorade National Players of the Year for their respective sports and from the pool of 12 national winners, one male and one female are selected as Gatorade Best Players of the Year, distinguishing the duo as the de-facto best high school athletes in the country.


How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

The earned strategy behind the Gatorade Player of the Year program set a standard for how to impactfully engage Gen Z by meeting them in the digital spaces they occupy with the dream athletes they identify with. By bringing the Player of the Year narrative to life on the core feeds and mediums that the next generation is consuming, PR paved the way for long-term awareness, connection and affinity for the Gatorade brand with this critical demographic.


Each year, hundreds of athletic awards are presented to high school athletes nationwide celebrating their talents on the playing field. But only one high school athletic award rises to the top of every young athlete’s bucket list: Gatorade Player of the Year.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program has built a deep legacy within sports culture, with some of the Greatest Athletes of All Time taking home the honor, including LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Allyson Felix, Derek Jeter and Candace Parker, cementing Player of the Year as a core part of an athlete’s journey to greatness. However, even with decades worth of star-studded alumni, the brand found there was an awareness gap between the Player of the Year program and the ones who were next in line for the award: Gen-Z athletes.

For the 2023 season, the company sought to bridge this gap through two main objectives:

  1. Drive relevancy with teen athletes
  2. Build long-term brand equity in “Gatorade Player of the Year”

Strategy & Execution

To refresh this decades-long program and win with Gen-Z, PR set out to engage with its audience more effectively by:

  1. Leveraging compelling content to land on social-forward and culture channels young athletes are consuming.
  2. Making the Player of the Year Awards Show a can’t miss sports culture moment.

The strategy was focused on drumming up the coolness factor by tapping into the program’s robust alumni network, in turn creating compelling content and experiences that increased relevance while delivering earned outputs.

For select National announcements, PR identified culture-forward professional athletes to surprise the 2023 class, resulting in impactful behind-the-scenes surprise content that landed on Gen Z feeds. Additionally, Gatorade brought a legendary list of athletes and influencers to walk the red carpet at the Gatorade Player of the Year Awards in LA alongside the 12 National Players of the Year. With over two dozen high profile media on site, the athletes engaged in interviews, both social-forward Q&As and formal sit downs, to discuss the program’s impact on the next generation, stopped by a “Style Station” hosted by ProTrending for content on each athlete’s fit and more, fully curating a social-forward experience for the athletes to share on their channels.


  • FleishmanHillard
  • Paragon Marketing Group
  • noun
  • MOMT


  • Jayson Tatum
  • Candace Parker
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Kevin Love
  • Mallory Swanson
  • Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
  • Sam Mewis
  • DK Metcalf
  • Nneka Ogwumike
  • April Ross
  • Jason Witten
  • Taylor Rooks
  • Allison Kuch
  • Isaac Rochelle


Shawna Ryan
Director - Events and Experiential Marketing at Gatorade

Kara Darling
Marketing Associate Manager

Rachel Filippini
Communications Sr. Analyst

Ashley Lang
Communications Director – Gatorade Portfolio

Celebrate in NYC

Join us for the 6th Annual Hashtag Sports Awards™ on the evening of June 6, 2024 as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.