By Rubin E. Grant
Spain Park’s Audrey Rothman has been named the 2021 Gatorade Alabama Volleyball Player of the Year.
She becomes the first Spain Park player to earn the honor and the third consecutive Over-the-Mountain volleyball player to be selected as the Gatorade state winner, joining Hoover’s Rya McKinnon (2020) and Mountain Brook’s Grace Carr (2019).
“I’m obviously very excited to be this year’s recipient,” Rothman said. “To be recognized on this high of a level is the biggest compliment an athlete can receive. All of the previous winners are so talented and have really shaped the significance of this award. I am so very blessed to even be considered on the same level as these great players.”
The 6-foot-4 senior outside hitter led the Jaguars to a 47-4 record and the 2021 Class 7A state championship, the first in school history. Rothman amassed 709 kills along with 247 digs, 71 blocks and 67 service aces.
She considers the Gatorade honor a team award.
“While I would say it was a big dream of mine since the beginning of my career, I don’t know if I would define it as a goal,” Rothman said. “Spain Park was so successful this year because the team always came first. Everyone in the program only had one goal in mind — to win state —and any other awards, while very honorable, were secondary. My teammates and coaches always gave full effort, making my job easy and allowing me to be successful. I owe it to them.
“Being named Gatorade Player of the Year is overwhelming in the best way possible. Every night I write down my prayers, so I can go back and read them. God has not only fulfilled, but surpassed any plans that I could’ve had. With this next chapter of my life about to unfold, I hope this award is symbolic of my journey this far and the path that lies ahead.”
Rothman was the Over The Mountain Player of the Year, a first team Under Armour All-American and a MaxPreps first team All-American. She is headed to Florida State to play volleyball in college, both indoor and beach.
“I am so proud of Audrey. She is an amazing young lady and has great family support,” FSU coach Chris Poole said. “When she verbally committed, Audrey was around 6 feet with amazing skills for her age. She has matured into a 6-foot-4 full rotation player and I believe will only get better.”
Spain Park volleyball coach Kellye Bowen is effusive in her praise of Rothman.
“She is the most decorated player to come through Spain Park volleyball,” Bowen said. “When I first met Audrey I knew she would be something special. She is not only a remarkable volleyball player she is an even better person. I can remember in Super Regionals we were warming up for the championship and she didn’t like the way the energy was and she stepped over to me and said, ‘I don’t like the way this is going.’ So she stepped up and addressed the team and the amount of respect the girls had for her they agreed and came out on fire that match. On the best teams the best players take ownership in their team.
“Audrey is the most dynamic player I’ve watched in Alabama volleyball. She was consistent all season long and you knew when she walked onto the floor you had a high chance of winning. The look she had in her eyes from the start of this season was different than any other year. She made a promise to win a championship and she did it on a daily basis.
“It has been an honor to watch her grow into the person and player she is today. She will be missed by Spain Park volleyball, but the standards that her and her fellow seniors set will remain. FSU is getting an amazing player and person. This isn’t the last time you will see her name in the papers.”
Other coaches also took note of Rothman’s special talent.
“Rothman is a complete volleyball player,” Thompson coach Judy Green said. “She’s accomplished in all the skills of the game and she can terminate the ball at a high level. Her length allows her to attack angles that no one else in the state could.”
The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Rothman is also a finalist for the Gatorade national Player of the Year award.
Rothman, who attends Church of the Highlands, is a devoted member of her church community. She also has volunteered on behalf of the Spain Park Ambassadors and the Spain Park Peer Helpers programs and maintained a weighted 4.28 grade-point average in the classroom.