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Fort Myers’ Paris Thompson was named Florida Gatorade Player of the Year

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Paris Thompson, center, smiles as she is known to break the school record for kills at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

The latest award from Paris Thompson is a hit.

Thompson, the preeminent underdog in Fort Myers, was named Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year 2020-21 on Thursday.

The honor came for the Notre Dame signatory 34 years after her mother Holly Kelly won the 1987 Gatorade Florida Player of the Year award for track and field.

That made the award special for Thompson.

“I honestly am still shocked that there are so many great players in Florida,” she said.

According to the press release, the award, which is being presented in the 36th year of its existence, honors top athletic performance as well as academic performance and character on and off the field. Thompson is now a finalist for Gatorade Volleyball National Player of the Year, which will be announced later this month.

The honor speaks to the strength of Fort Myers’ volleyball program, Thompson said.

Thompson finished her senior season with 413 kills, 228 digs, and 42 aces in 75 sets, leading her team to a 19-3 record, a four-game state final, a District 14th title in 15 years, and their first regional championship in five Years.

Stephanie Martin, the Fort Myers volleyball head coach, said the Green Wave community was “so excited” about Thompson’s performance.

“Paris has always shown a commitment to their teammates and their school,” she said. “She has always brought excitement to the court. We wish her all the best at Notre Dame.”

Thomspon, two-time News Press Player of the Year and Player of the Decade, previously received the Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Volleyball Award and an Under Armor Second-Team All-American selection.

More:Fort Dame outside of Hitter, Notre Dame recruits Paris Thompson by the name of Florida’s Miss Volleyball

The award gives Thompson the opportunity to award a US $ 1,000 grant to a local or national sports organization of their choice as part of the Gatorade “Pay it Forward” campaign.

Thompson said she plans to discuss her decision with teachers at Fort Myers, but mentioned that students on the ESE program always had a place in their hearts. She previously volunteered for the school’s unified basketball team.

Thompson enrolled with Notre Dame early on, which allows her to practice and train with the Fighting Irish for 16 hours.

It’s a decision she is grateful for as she has had more time to adjust to the life of a college student-athlete.

“I’m so glad I got up early because it’ll only get easier in the fall,” she said.

As a result, she couldn’t be with Fort Myers friends and family when the news hit, but she was inundated with texts in group chats this morning.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Thompson.

Follow News-Press sports reporter Dustin Levy on Twitter: @DustinBLevy. For more information on sports in Southwest Florida, visit @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

Paris Thompson of Fort Myers hits when Ashleigh Miller of Charlotte High School blocks at Fort Myers High School during the regional quarterfinals of Class 6A volleyball on Wednesday October 21, 2020.

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