Our All-City Athletes of the Year award has only been around for nine years, a drop in the bucket compared to the 120+ year history of outstanding youth athletes in Long Beach. But over the last near-decade we’ve gotten a good look at the top flight of the city’s talent pool: previous recipients of this award have been NFL Pro Bowlers, Olympians, NCAA Freshmen of the Year, and first-round NBA Draft picks.
This year’s honorees are sure to carry that banner proudly into the future, as we have confidence all three All-Americans will go on to success in college. This year’s group makes a bit of history: we have our second-ever Lakewood honoree (and first female Lancer) as well as our first-ever girls’ volleyball honorees.
Our male honoree is Wilson water polo and swim standout Gray Carson, marking the second-straight win for the Wilson aquatics program on the boys’ side. On the girls’ side, Lakewood’s Laura Williams and Adonia Faumuina were an easy choice, especially after both were named Under Armor All-Americans, leading us to award our first ever co-honorees for an All-City Athlete of the Year.
Boys’ All-City Athlete of the Year: Gray Carson, Wilson Aquatics
Wilson senior Gray Carson had an excellent career over four years of water polo and swimming at Wilson, and was one of the best players in the country his senior year.
If you believe international water polo coach and local legend Ricardo Azevedo, Gray was perhaps the best high school player in the country this year, with high expectations to make the national team in the future and continue Long Beach’s deep legacy of competing at the Olympic level in the sport.
Carson dominated the Moore League and local competition during his time in high school, and is set to go on to the next level and continue that excellence at UCLA.
Before he moves on, however, he’s happy to have gotten a chance to be part of Wilson’s aquatic history. “It’s great because you meet guys who tell you stories about the old Wilson water polo teams, we’re a family,” he said. “You have connections with those guys.”
Carson said he hopes to play in the 2024 Olympics in Paris and “wants to be there” in 2028 when the Olympics are in Southern California—with Long Beach slated to be the host for the water polo competition.
“He’s just a dominant high school performer,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said of Carson. “He’s a great team guy. For all of the skill he has, he’s still humble and that’s important. You couldn’t ask for a better teammate.”
Carson said he grew up playing baseball but he wasn’t that successful.
“I couldn’t run too well,” Carson said. “I was a fat kid who ran on his heels.”
Now the 6-3 utility stud is off to the NCAA, and hopefully to the national team beyond that.
Girls’ All-City Athletes of the Year: Laura Williams, Lakewood Volleyball & Adonia Faumuina, Long Beach Poly Volleyball
We’re proud to recognize a historic year for girls’ volleyball in Long Beach, with two Under Armor All-Amerians playing in the Moore League: Lakewood’s Laura Williams, who is signed to play with Oregon State, and Long Beach Poly’s Adonia Faumuina, who is signed to play with USC.
Williams developed into an All-American player at Lakewood, with power and athleticism to go with her size, earning her major PAC-12 scholarship attention.
“She’s a very good leader because she assumes responsibility and communicates really well,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said of Williams. “I think she can block with just about anybody. So we’ve got her going after big time blocks against the best hitters.”
A multisport athlete as a child, Williams saw her sister Kalyah blossom as a volleyball player at Poly and then at Washington State (Williams has now transferred to USC for the upcoming year where she’ll play with Faumuina).
“Volleyball was just more competitive than the other sports I was playing and I love to compete and win,” Williams said. “I’m a very bad loser.”
Faumuina has been ranked in the top ten in her class for her entire high school career, which was severely shortened by COVID-19, with a full season of volleyball canceled due to the pandemic. She finished as the No. 7 player in the senior class according to PrepVolleyball.com. She’s also a super-competitive player, and decided to play beach volleyball with teammate Halie McGinest in the Spring. The reason?
“The Fall season was hard, I wanted to play for Poly and win a championship,” said Faumuina.
“Adonia is a great human being and a great volleyball player, she’s got a really bright future on and off the court,” said her high school coach this year, Megan Moenoa.
Both Williams and Faumuina played well in Florida at the Under-Armor All-American Game, which was nationally televised on ESPN.
Both athletes are not only high-caliber competitors, they’re also high-character people, who provided a great example for younger players on their team and in the Mizuno club program this year.
All-City Athlete of the Year Honorees
2014: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ariana Washington
2015: Daniel McArthur, Imani McDonald
2016: Jack Jones, Ali Morallos
2017: Sam Lewis, Ayanna Clark
2018: Tyler Schafer, Ariyonna Augustine
2019: Will Frankenfeld, Rachel Glenn
2020: Peyton Watson, Tiare Jennings
2021: Hank Rivers, Jade McDonald
2022: Gray Carson, Laura Williams & Adonia Faumuina