Many of the premier high school athletes who have won Gatorade Player of the Year honors over the past three decades have gone on to illustrious careers in their chosen sports—and many have not. But some of those who chose other fields have also flourished.
1986: Eric Mastalir, Track & Field
All-America at Stanford in 1990
Surgery on both Achilles tendons prevented Mastalir, a distance runner, from seeking a pro 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 Sounders in Seattle. “These brands have such a loyal fan base, and I loved tapping into that,” says Mastalir.
Since 2014 he has been at Amazon working in global business development, while also dabbling in sports ticketing and video. “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.”
Won NCAA titles at Virginia in 1993 and '94
MLS had been in existence for only one year in 1996, when Fisher graduated from Virginia. After surveying former teammates who participated in the inaugural season, he wasn't sold on playing. So he turned to what he had planned for his postsoccer career: medicine. Says Fisher, “I was just like, Why delay the whole thing?”
After med school at UVa he completed two radiology residencies and has worked in a private practice in Wilmington, N.C., for nine years. Fisher and his wife, Kelly, coach their two daughters in soccer; when their three-year-old son gets older they’ll coach him too. “[Soccer has] never really left me,” Fisher says. “I’m out at the field four to five days a week. It’s so fun to see them play.”
Averaged 9.3 points at Michigan State
After a career as a high-scoring guard at Flint (Mich.) Northwestern High, Torbert was the team's defensive player of the year in each of his four seasons at Michigan State and a key cog in the Spartans’ 2005 Final Four run. He played overseas for seven years then returned to Flint and started the Kelvin Torbert Hope for a Better Tomorrow Foundation in honor of his mother, Florine Green, who died of breast cancer when Torbert was five.
Torbert also cowrote a children's book, KT and the Radical Roundball, which promotes the value of hard work, humility, service and education. “I know everybody wants to play ball forever,” Torbert says. “But I think I’m in a great spot. I’m in the thick of things, and I can relate to these kids. I like where I am now.”
Passed for 3,556 yards at Tennessee
Injuries to both his shoulder and thumb limited Worley’s career as a quarterback at Tennessee and prevented him from getting an NFL roster spot. So Worley returned to a place that’s been a part of his life since he was nine—the Upper Palmetto YMCA in downtown Rock Hill, S.C.—where he serves as the sports and fitness director. “It was an opportunity, fresh out of college, to give back to the community I grew up in,” he says.
Worley enjoys seeing kids compete. And in a town that is sometimes called Football City, USA, he gets to see players who can follow in his footsteps. “We’ve got a bunch of talent,” Worley says. “It’s good to be around that.”