From Cate School to the ESPYs.
Ema Boateng’s selection as Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year on May 17 made Boateng the first high school athlete from Santa Barbara to ever be considered for the award, much less win it.
For his amazing trajectory from the Condor League to the national spotlight, Boateng has been named Presidio Sports’ local Sports Figure of the Month for May, 2012.
“Of course anyone who sees Ema on the soccer pitch is instantly struck by his skill with the ball, his explosive power, his jaw-dropping speed, and his magical sense of the field,” explained Boateng’s high school coach, Dave Mochel, at a special event held on Cate’s campus to announce the award.
An ESPN TV crew visited the hill-top Carpinteria campus with American soccer great Alexi Lalas to present the trophy and fete one of the nation’s top high school soccer players.
“I would like to thank Cate School too for giving me this opportunity. It’s been an incredible three years that I’ve been here with these lovely people,” Boateng said to his adoring schoolmates at a school-wide assembly.
“I’d also like to thank the team. Although it sounds like the high school player of the year could play against 11 other guys, it’s not like that. You guys have been great.”
Boateng scored 32 goals and passed for 19 assists to lead the Rams to a 20-2-1 record and a CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship, the team’s second in a row.
The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
For Boateng, the achievement on the soccer field is just a piece of the story. A native of Ghana, Boateng came to California three years ago as a high school freshman and had to deal with the challenges of learning a new culture and language.
By all accounts, Boateng has excelled on all fronts, in the classroom, on the soccer field, and in the community.
“One of the reasons why I’m so proud being associated with this award is that it recognizes not just what you do when you kick the ball in soccer, but what you do off the field, and the friends you make, and the family that you are a part of,” Lalas said.
Boateng is a junior in high school but is already 18 years old, physically and academically ready for college.
We in Santa Barbara get him for another four years as the two-time CIF Division 7 Player of the Year has committed to play at UCSB starting this fall.
Boateng is just the third student-athlete from California to earn Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors since the program began in 1985. The only other student-athlete from Santa Barbara County to earn recognition as a Gatorade California Player of the Year is Cabrillo’s Duane Solomon, who in 2003 won the California Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
The next level for Boateng is the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July. Recent winners of the overall National Athlete of the Year include Dwight Howard, Lebron James and Matt Barkley.
Regardless of that outcome, Boateng will walk the red carpet at the ESPYs in July.
From Cate School to the bigtime.