MOUNT GREENWOOD — Charley Niego of Morgan Park was named Gatorade's Illinois Volleyball Player of the Year Wednesday after helping lead Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School to a 4A state championship.
Niego is McAuley's first winner of the award which has highlighted the best high school athletes for 32 years. The honor recognizes athletic excellence, as well as academic achievement and character demonstrated on and off the field.
The award makes Niego a finalist for the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award, which will be announced later this month. A 6-foot junior, Niego is an outside hitter who tallied 498 kills, 473 digs, 69 blocks and 25 service aces last season.
The Mighty Macs (38-1) held the No. 1 national ranking by PrepVolleyball.com. And Niego was a MaxPreps First Team All-American She recorded 57 kills and 59 digs in the team's four-match state tournament run.
A graduate of St. Cajetan Elementary School in Morgan Park, Niego maintained a weighted 4.0 GPA at McAuley. She's made a verbal commitment to play on scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 2018.
She also volunteers locally preparing meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House as well as serving area homeless men and women. Niego further donates her time as a youth volleyball coach.
As a winner of the Gatorade award, Niego will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program.
She'll also have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 grant by writing a brief essay explaining why her selected organization deserves additional support. Twelve such grants will be announced throughout the year.
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