If being named overall scholar athletes was not surprise enough, Nathan Andreo and Tori Bindi soon learned another connection.
They will soon become classmates at the University of Florida.
Andreo, a successful cross-country runner at Pace High and Bindi, who set unmatched achievements in swimming, capped their decorated high school academic and athletic careers with the top awards at the 37th annual Pensacola Sports Senior Scholar-Athletes Awards Banquet at Olive Baptist Church.
“When you are here listening to everything all these (fellow honorees) have done, all these other athletes, it’s amazing,” said Andreo, whose classroom success is complimented by all of his community service endeavors. “They all have so much going for them and I’m thinking when they got to this award (overall scholar athlete) that’s not me. Such a surprise. It really is special.”
“Everybody has done such great things and is going to awesome schools,” said Bindi, who never lost a sprint race her entire high school swimming career, completing a career sweep in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. She will be joining the Gators women’s swimming and diving team that is a national power.
Like Andreo, Bindi not only attained classroom achievement, she was so involved in the Gulf Breeze community.
“I am truly honored to receive this overall award. It is tough competition with everyone here,” she said.
An overflow crowd of hundreds inside the banquet hall celebrated the top achievers in Escambia and Santa Rosa County high schools. This annual event, presented by Sacred Heart Health System, is a signature part of the Pensacola Sports organization calendar. It honors the best and the brightest and the future.
“You are going to find out later in life that is probably the biggest game you need to win,” said Malcolm Thomas, superintendent of Escambia County School District. “You worked hard, you’ve been blessed with many talents.”
Andreo and Bindi were among high achievers in 26 boys and girls sports saluted Tuesday night. The newest addition was boys and girls lacrosse honorees.
Each high school participating in a sport could nominate one special athlete who attained high honors in the classroom and in community service.
“This is one of my favorite Pensacola Sports events, because we do have the opportunity to celebrate students,” said Pensacola Sports president Jackie Brown, who is a middle school teacher. “I love this event, because sometimes I get to see my former students here and recognize them for their accomplishments.”
Bindi and Andreo each received a $4,000 scholarship from the Pensacola Sports Foundation.
Each of the individual sports award winners receive a $1800 scholarship from Pensacola State College, if they choose to attend. If not, the next nominee in voting gets that opportunity. Pensacola State is one of the major partners in this event.
“We are proud to be a partner with Pensacola Sports,” said PSC athletic director Bill Hamilton, then nodding to the Pirates women’s basketball coach Penny Jones, a Washington High grad. “Penny Jones walked across this stage not too long ago. I have been doing this for a long time. This has grown and grown and we are happy to be part of it.”
Long-time Pine Forest High football coach Jerry Pollard, whose credentials make him a candidate for the Florida High School Sports Hall o Fame, was honored to receive the RADM Kenneth L. Shugart Jr. Award. Long-time WEAR-3 TV sports director Dan Shugart, who has been the emcee of this event for decades, including last night, said he was honored nearly 20 years ago when Pensacola Sports wanted to pay tribute to his father.
His father was an All-American basketball player, a career Navy officer, a Rhodes Scholar nominee and Vietnam War veteran.
Pollard lit into a smile when reaching the stage to receive the achievement award. His joy matched all of the honorees.
In alphabetical order of the sport, here are the award winners announced Tuesday night.
Baseball –– Evan Floyd (Catholic), Girls Basketball — Faithe Franklin (West Florida High). Boys Basketball — Bradley Proctor (Gulf Breeze), Cheerleading –– Brooke Vincent (Tate), Boys Cross Country — Mitchell Brooks (West Florida), Girls Cross Country — Jennifer Sublett (West Florida), Football –– Michael Sandle (Navarre).
Girls Golf –-Abigail Herrmann (Catholic), Boys Golf — MIchael Mann (Catholic), Boys Lacrosse — Hayden Broussard (Catholic), Girls Lacrosse — Brianna Sekul (Gulf Breeze), Boys Soccer — Eric Masterson (Catholic), Girls Soccer — Gabrielle Dosev (Catholc), Softball — Callan Taylor (Navarre),
Boys Swimming — Michael Johnson (PHS), Girls Swimming –– Peyton Parra (Washington), Boys Tennis — Daniell Sullivan (Catholic), Girls Tennis — Emily Dawson (Washington), Boys Track –– Javen Jackson (West Florida), Girls Track — Lynn Arthur (West Florida), Volleyball –– Kiley Brady (Catholic), Boys Weightlifting — Adrian Acevedo (Pace), Girls Weightlifting –– Olivia Brahms (Navarre), Wrestling — Travis Thompson (Pace).
The schools nominate their senior athletes for each sport and submit the paperwork to Pensacola Sports. A selection committee made of educators, community leaders, and Pensacola Sports board members reviews the anonymous applications and select the best person’s credentials for each sport.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETES SPECIAL AWARDS
Overall Girls Scholarship Winner: Tori Bindi (Gulf Breeze).
Overall Boys Scholarship Winner: Nathan Andreo (Pace).
UWF Scholarship: Callan Taylor (Navarre).
Gary McAdams Memorial Scholarship: Kaci VanVoorhis (Pace), Cortavis Watts (Washington).
Whatburger Scholarship: Trace Penton (Tate), Eliza Eligo (PHS).
Dr. Alec Kessler Memorial Scholarship: Chloe Dawson (Milton).
RADM Kenneth L. Shugart Jr. Award: Jerry Pollard, Pine Forest