MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - On Wednesday evening, the 2018 All-Scholastic Sports Team and their families were brought together at a celebration honoring their academic as well as athletic achievements. For many of the 12 semi-finalists, the honor was the culmination of the hard work put in by many people.
Joel Hill, a senior Newton County tennis player, reflects on this year’s honor.
“It’s pretty awesome to know how much work I’ve put in, all the things my parents have done for me, my coaches and just to be among such a distinguished group,” Hill said.
Common themes among those selected included state championships, NHS inductions, top of class rankings and student government officers. Of the 12, four were selected to receive scholarships: Hill, Chad Williams of Quitman, Forest’s Brandy Santamaria and from Patrician Academy, Lydia Lewis.
“It was probably the biggest honor I’ve had senior year so far because to be surrounded in a room with a lot of incredible people, I mean it meant a lot especially to win, like, the actual scholarship,” Williams said. “It just meant a lot.”
The evening was capped by keynote speaker, West Alabama football coach, Brett Gilliland, who spoke about the importance of one’s attitude while facing every opportunity.
Gilliland talks about what he wanted the student-athletes to get out of his speech.
“Just as they move forward in life to continue to be able to handle adverse situations and to know what they’ve learned in their high school and what their sport has taught them and how to carry that through life,” he said.
Santamaria understands how Gilliland’s message will translate into her own life.
“He definitely impacted the way I will see college in the future and how I would act on for my community, for my school and for the athletics,” she said.
Gilliland’s message was a good reminder for everyone, even for the brightest of student-athletes who will be beginning a new chapter in their lives this fall.
“College is a great opportunity and everything that we face is just opportunities that we’re blessed with,” Lewis noted. “And everywhere we turn we’re going to have blessings from God and they’re going to be ‘get-to’ blessings, not ‘have-to’ blessings.