Miller High School senior Derrick Estell knew the time was near that he would find about a scholarship opportunity through national athletic retailer Foot Locker.
Well, he found out on Tuesday.
In a school assembly disguised as a meeting to discuss standardized testing, Estell was surprised to be presented with a $20,000 scholarship check that he will use as a member of the Valapariso University football team next fall.
“They did a really good job of keeping it a secret,” Estell said. “I was hoping and praying. I knew they would get back to me soon, but I really wasn’t sure.”
Estell was one of 20 students nationwide to receive the scholarship as part of the Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program, which is also sponsored by DoSomething.org. After applying, Estell was one of several dozen athletes nationwide chosen for a video interview through the Internet, which apparently went well.
The award is to “recognize students who demonstrate academic excellence and exemplify strong leadership skills both in sports and within their communities.”
“He works hard in the classroom, he works hard on the field, and he works hard in the weight room,” said Dustin Baldwin, who coached Estell for Miller’s football team and is now the coach at Neosho.
“He treats everybody around him like they are a star, and he treats them the right way. When you talk about kids that are deserving of things like that, it’s Derrick Estell.”
Estell accepted the award to the applause from his schoolmates, and was congratulated by his principal, Kern Sorrel, along with his mother, Amy McLain, stepfather, and four siblings.
Estell ran for 1,120 yards and 23 touchdowns this fall for the Cardinals, which qualified for the Class 1 state quarterfinals. He also made 58 tackles on defense.
He will play running back next fall for the Crusaders, a Pioneer Football League NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision team, the same classification as Missouri State.
“I felt like it was something that fit me perfectly, so I went ahead and filled out the scholarship (application),” Estell said. “It looks like it turned out well for me.
“I’m excited about it.”