In 2008 Brandon Black attended the 19th annual Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award banquet.
He and his parents, Chris and Kerry, along with his favorite teacher and coach Mark McGarity and wife Lisa, were there in support of Lely High candidate Sabrina Carrender.
For the the first, and only time, the award was shared by Jack Swanson of Naples and Kelsey Assarian of Barron Collier.
From that moment Black was determined to be Lely’s candidate when he became a senior.
“I wanted to be on that stage,” said Lely’s candidate for the 24th annual Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award.
The winner will be announced at the award banquet, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Waldorf Astoria Naples on May 22.
Every high school in Collier County is represented. Candidates, names in alphabetical order, include, Danielle Avery, Naples; Black, Morgan Daffin, Everglades City; Chase Davis, Palmetto Ridge; Katie Denti, Barron Collier; Kali Heller-Spencer, Gulf Coast; Jay Jenkins, Seacrest; Cameron Maguire, St. John Neumann; Joshua Mastrangelo, First Baptist Academy; Grayson Pinholster, Community School;Marinna Shadley, Golden Gate and Jesus Velazco, Immokalee.
The Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Foundation will give a one-time stipend of $5,000 to each of its finalists. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship $2,500 a year for four years.
“Brandon is a well-rounded kid who represents Lely well,” said Leslie Ricciardelli, Lely principal. “He is proud of Lely and we are proud of him.”
Matt Kuk, activities coordinator, said, “Brandon is one of the finest student-athletes we have at Lely. Teachers and coaches agree that Brandon can handle more than other students his age. He is one of those few individuals that you can always count on to get things done and done correctly.”
Michael Harp, CW4 (Ret.) Lely Army JROTC senior instructor, is most complimentary.
“Brandon is a complete package,” he said. “He is one of the most determined, motivated students I have ever taught. He walks tall and is an inspiration to all who know him. His integrity is above reproach. He is the epitome of a well-rounded student.”
Academically, Black has a grade point average of 3.56 unweighted and 4.65 weighted. He is ranked 13th in his class.
Athletically, he ran cross country and track and played golf all four years. He came in second in the Collier Athletic Conference Golf Tournament his senior year.
He was admitted to three universities, choosing North Carolina State.
“I was seriously considering Penn State first, but being in Charlotte will bring me closer to my family,” he said. “My roommate will be my friend Sam Roback who I met at weather camp at Penn State.”
Black plans on becoming a meteorologist.
The teacher he’ll miss most: McGarity.
“He was like a second dad, always watching over me. He made sure I did what was right.”
What he will miss about Lely: The overall atmosphere and traditions and the impact teachers have made. Wearing the orange and black sports uniform.
In speaking of his Winged Foot competition, Black said, “There are other great candidates who can win. My parents say I have met my goal, that everything else is extra.
“I have an acceptance speech, I hope I get to use it.”