Victoria Howard. Her name has been on the lips of opposing coaches and players over the past four years.
When this season is completed, she will have earned 16 varsity letters, four each in volleyball, basketball, softball and track.
In each sport she has also been an All-County and Collier County Athletic Conference All-Star.
Yet, it was no easy task for her to become Lely High’s nominee for the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award.
Marco’s Amber Imm and Jade Dworkin, leaders in cross country and track, and highly-ranked officers in the school’s ROTC program, also filed applications for the prestigious award that will be given out on May 21.
Paul Ruby, Lely athletic director, who was not on the Winged Foot Committee made up of teachers, said the candidates were outstanding.
“That was one of those good problems, where you have strong student-ahtletes,” he said. “When they were called in for discussions all three came out of an AP (Advanced Placement) Calculus Class.”
The candidates also are among the top 25 in their senior class.
“When the committee weighed the candidates, I think it finally came down to Victoria’s exemplary sports record and her classroom success,” Ruby said.
Howard, who has been accepted at Florida State University, was honored by the nomination.
“The nomination is something that I have had as a goal,” she said. “Winning it is my next goal.”
The Winged Foot Scholarship Foundation celebrates its 20th year in May and its chairman, Bud Hornbeck, expects another difficult task of choosing one senior from 10 high schools in Collier County.
In 2009 “it was a dead heat, which caused us to select two candidates for the honor,” he said.
Sharing the honor were Jack Swanson, who led the Naples High football team to an undefeated season and a state championship and Kelsey Assarian, who led the Barron Collier girls basketball team to the state championship.
Hornbeck, who has chaired the committee for 16 years, said, “It is absolutely incredible how, year in year out, we have such a very high level of success that these kids bring to the table.”
The basic requirements are for the nominee to have two varsity letters and a 3.0 grad-point average, and be involved in extra curricular activities.
“Every candidate blows the requirements away,” he said. “It would be a rarity if the student didn’t possess a 3.4 GPA. When it comes to helping in the community or working at jobs to help support the family, there is one tremendous story after another.”
This year’s keynote speaker will be Urban Meyer, Florida University football coach, whose team won the national championship in 2008, the second in his four years at the university.
The winner, or winners, each receive $10,000, spread over four years. The other nominees receive one-time gifts of $3,000 each for college.
Tickets for the event are $225 each, with corporate sponsorships available at $1,600 each, which allows for program recognition and a table of eight attendees. The event will be at the Ritz Carlton Beach Hotel.
For more information contact Hornbeck at 262-7171.