After leading the West High football team to its first Alaska state championship in eight years, senior Aaron Hampton on Wednesday became the sixth player in program history to be named Gatorade Alaska Football Player of the Year.
“It feels great because I’ve worked hard since last spring and it was really one of my top goals to achieve this year,” he said. “I honestly kind of forgot about it because it was so late, until I woke up to a huge surprise this morning.”
Hampton was bombarded by congratulatory texts from family, teammates and former coaches, and it wasn’t until he refreshed the Gatorade Player of the Year website and saw his name under Alaska that he knew it was for real.
“I really can’t take all the credit,” he said. “My tremendous teammates really helped me through those tough practices when I wasn’t there mentally. They helped me to be be a better person and version of myself.”
The award not only recognizes a student-athlete for their feats of athleticism on the gridiron, it also takes into account exceptional academic achievement and exemplary character displayed on and off the field.
Hampton maintained a weighted 3.4 GPA and volunteered locally with his church, serving people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity at an Anchorage soup kitchen.
“From a young age, I’ve been preached that it’s student-athlete and not just an athlete,” he said. “I really took that serious, and I’m glad that there is a road that really represents both, and not just one from an athletic standpoint.”