BEFORE CORY BOOKER was a U.S. senator running for president, he was a football star for Old Tappan (N.J.) Northern Valley Regional High. A defensive back, he also caught 46 passes for 589 yards and six touchdowns and was named New Jersey's Gatorade high school football player of the year in 1986--87, the second year of state-by-state and national sport-by-sport awards for girls and boys.
Booker went on to play tight end at Stanford, where he majored in political science and was elected president of his senior class. "Football was always going to be my ticket and not my destination," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2018. As we await the announcement of the 2019 overall Gatorade Athletes of the Year—one boy and one girl will be honored on the cover of the July 15 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—here are some of the national Gatorade players of the year who have gone on to great success beyond the field.
• Soccer, 1997--98
• Presentation High (San Jose)
After leading Santa Clara to the 2001 NCAA title, Wagner had a distinguished career with the
USWNT, scoring 21 goals in 131 matches and earning two Olympic gold medals. In 2018 she became the first female TV analyst to call a men's World Cup game, and this year she has been the leading color commentator for the Women's World Cup on Fox Sports.
• Track and Field, 1994--95
• Jesuit High (Fair Oaks, Calif.)
Stember excelled in middle distance at Stanford, where he used his devastating kick to set school records in the 800- and 1,500-meter races. Now a professional chef, Stember throws sushi parties for corporate events and for celebrities such as Elon Musk and Bradley Cooper, who hired Stember to be his personal chef while he filmed The Hangover Part III. For years Stember's parties were private events, but in 2018 he opened a restaurant in Brooklyn complete with a Sir Roger Room (as in Bannister).
• Basketball, 2005--06
• Chist the King (Queens, N.Y.)
Her list of accomplishments ranks with the best to ever take the court, but Charles, a six-time WNBA All-Star who recently became the Liberty's all-time scoring leader, is still going. The 6'4" center won an NCAA title at UConn, went No. 1 in the 2010 draft and was the league's MVP in '12. She has also earned a pair of Olympic gold medals and has become one of the league's most vocal leaders on social justice issues.
In 2011, Charles established the Hopey's Heart Foundation in memory of her aunt Maureen (Hopey) Vaz, who died of heart failure. The organization, which aims to prevent sudden cardiac arrest among student-athletes, has provided defibrillators to 400 schools around the United States—and saved at least one life. Charles's foundation earned her the Mannie Jackson Basketball's Human Spirit award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, but she is not interested in praise. "All the glory belongs to God," Charles told USA Today in 2017. "I'm just a servant out here able to do his work, and that's what Hopey's Heart is about—serving others."
• Basketball, 1999--2000
• Bloomington (Ind.) North High
The 6'11" Jeffries starred for two years at Indiana before embarking on an 11-year NBA career with four teams. After retiring in 2013, he worked as a scout for the Nuggets, eventually becoming director of player personnel. But in July 2017, he decided to shift his focus to eSports, becoming the president of Echo Fox, a consortium of teams owned by former NBA player Rick Fox. Echo Fox has teams in a number of leagues, including League of Legends, Fortnite and Super Smash Bros, and is a top 5 eSports company according to Forbes. "When I was young and a 6-foot-tall 12-year-old, I started playing basketball because it was a new experience," Jeffries told ESPN.
"Now, even later in life, I get to have a new experience, a new challenge."
• Football, 1990--91
• Lake Howell High (Winter Park, Fla.)
As a tailback at Central Florida in 1994 and '95, Smith set school season records for rushing yards and touchdowns. Knee injuries limited his NFL career to two seasons with the Panthers, but Smith (right) made sure he had options.
He graduated from UCF with a master's in communications and business; now, the 46-year-old applies what he learned in school and from football to his work as a private investigator. "The discipline and analysis—it's just like being on the field," Smith says. His Orlando-based firm, Smithgroup Investigations, mostly investigates fraud claims and conducts background checks. "Cherish the moment," he advises young athletes. "Be the best every play, every snap, and you'll go far."
• Track and Field, 1985--86
• Jesuit High (Sacramento)
Surgery on both Achilles tendons prevented Mastalir, a distance runner, from seeking a pro track career, but he wanted to stay in sports. He worked in development for Adidas and with Bausch & Lomb, then did stints building corporate sponsorships and running ticket sales for the NBA's Kings and the NHL's Sharks before becoming chief commercial officer for the Seahawks and the Sounders in Seattle. "These brands have such a loyal fan base, and I loved tapping into that," says Mastalir. Since 2018, he has been in charge of global strategic alliances at Nike, while serving as a mentor at Sports Tech Tokyo, an accelerator program that aims to give sports tech startups revenue-generating opportunities. "I wouldn't have expected I would be here, nor would I have expected to spend a number of years with teams," Mastalir says. "I'm pleased with my journey."
ASHLEY BRIGNAC DOMEC
• John Curtis Christian High (River Ridge, La.)
The righthander was a three-time Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year for Louisiana at Lafayette as well as valedictorian of the class of 2011. She earned a degree in kinesiology exercise science with a 4.0 GPA and was named Capital One Academic All-America Player of the Year in 2011 and '12. "During my athletic and academic careers, I became fascinated with biomechanics," says Domec (above), who turned that interest into a career as a chiropractor.
Today, Domec has a practice in her hometown of River Ridge; she recently bought the clinic from a doctor who once coached her in softball. "I have the ability to give back to the community by helping people," she says. "I love treating young athletes and women in the prenatal and postpartum phases of life."
BY THE NUMBERS
Gold medals won by former Gatorade winners.
Professional titles in football, baseball and basketball.
Former winners who were elected to pro Halls of Fame.