Meet the 13 Collier County 2021 Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award finalists
For the second straight year, the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete selection committee will meet virtually. But once again, there will be a real winner.
The committee will meet Tuesday evening and discuss the 13 senior finalists selected by Collier County high schools, and choose a winner, who will be revealed Thursday.
The Winged Foot's 32nd annual banquet, which is normally scheduled for the Thursday leading into Memorial Day weekend, was canceled for the second straight year in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas was the scheduled keynote speaker.
The Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Foundation will give $5,000 to each of the finalists. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship – $2,500 a year for four years; the other finalists receive one-time stipends.
Graduating seniors from Collier County high schools are eligible for the award, which was first given in 1990 by the Collier Athletic Club.
Each candidate was required to complete an extensive application process in order to be considered by their respective schools. Each school then determined its representative.
Malaya Melancon of First Baptist Academy won the honor last year. She was the first in the school's history to do so.
Chairman Bud Hornbeck said major sponsors again have agreed to stay on board, with respective $5,000 donations, even though the banquet has been canceled. As with last year, donations from other sponsors will be requested. Anyone interested can contact him at email@example.com.
The major sponsors are the Lutgert Companies/Premier Sotheby’s International, Barron Collier Junior Foundation, Gallagher Lutgert Insurance, Iberia Bank and Grant Fridkin Pearson P. A.
Here are the 13 finalists for 2021:
Immokalee High School
Cardoza played varsity football for three years and varsity lacrosse for four. He was the lacrosse team's Defensive Player of the Year this season, after being voted Most Improved as a junior. Cardoza is attending Adams State and plans to play lacrosse.
From recommendation letter: "He is a leader on the field and tackles every drill with enthusiasm and tenacity. Through his hard work and perseverance, he has developed into one of the best players on the team. He was our team captain, and the coaches awarded him Defensive Player of the Year." — Scott Rickard, boys lacrosse coach
Barron Collier High School
Clausen transferred this year from Illinois, and set school basketball records for points in a game (44) and a season (684), and was first-team All-Area. She also competed in track, which she had not in Illinois, and was a district champion in the 400 meters.
From recommendation letter: "She demonstrates the desire to excel at everything she does with the utmost sportsmanship. Her work ethic is beyond anything a coach could ask for. Early in the season, we would do layup drills, which certain amount of layups have to be made in a certain time. After hitting her time and goal, she would still strive to add more. That is how she played every game." — Mike Hamburg, girls basketball coach
Gulf Coast High School
Davidson has been one of the top boys lacrosse players in Southwest Florida and beyond. He was a Player of the Year finalist as a sophomore and committed to the University of Maryland prior to that season. He had 54 goals and 30 assists this season, leading the Sharks to a 13-3 record.
From recommendation letter: "Even though he wasn't the fastest member of the (swimming) team, the younger members looked up to him knowing this was not his top sport. His exploits on the lacrosse field precede him, and the younger members of the (swimming) team were awed by seeing him compete in the pool." — Janice Hunter, boys swimming coach, science instructor
St. John Neumann Catholic High School
DeSantis earned varsity letters in football, soccer, and baseball all four years, and track and field for three. He was second-team Football Offense All-Area this season, and honorable mention in soccer. He also advanced to the state track and field meet, placing eighth in the 200 meters to earn all-state honors. DeSantis is going to Dennison University for football and track.
From recommendation letter: "Daniel is a tremendous athlete whether it's having scored touchdowns in five different ways on the football field, playing both striker and goalie in soccer, or being one of the state's leaders in multiple events in track. But while possession great athleticism, it's the 'other boxes' he checks that him such a special young man." — Damon Jones, athletic director, football coach
Golden Gate High School
Godinez played lacrosse all four years and participated in cross country the last two, becoming a captain in both sports. She was the lacrosse team's offensive player of the year as a junior, was second-team all-conference as a senior, and the cross country team's MVP as a senior.
From recommendation letter: "She is willing to do anything it takes to be successful. She many times pushes her comfort level for the greater good of any endeavor she belongs to. She is one of the most dedicated and selfless young women I have ever had the pleasure of teaching since she will always put herself in a less desirable position to aid the comfort level of her groups." — John W. Krupp, AP U.S. government, honors economics teacher
Palmetto Ridge High School
Grimes has been a highly recruited football player since his freshman year when he played in the Freshman All-American Game. He earned varsity letters in football and basketball all four years, and track and field for the first three, and made the Daily News all-area teams in all three of those sports. Grimes has signed to play football at the University of Nebraska.
From recommendation letter: "Whether he is serving as captain of the PRHS football team, basketball team, or participating in track events, he leads by example and humbly earns the respect of his peers due to his calm temperament and unwavering morals. ... As an educator for nearly 20 years, I have seen many students excel, yet I have rarely observed a student handling such accolades so modestly." — Kathy Schroeder, science department chair, AICE Marine instructor
Naples High School
Johnson transferred in this year from Illinois, and became a stalwart on the cross country and track and field teams for the Golden Eagles. In cross country, she finished second in the conference, and also placed in the top 16 at districts and regionals, and 43rd at the state meet. In track, she won the 1,600 and was a member of the 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams that won conference and district titles.
From recommendation letter: "As impressive as her resumé may be, she has other traits that make her stand out. I have enjoyed her companionship and her very interesting life. We had many discussion and I respect her mature opinions. I used her many times to calm and/or motivate her teammates, and myself." — Rich Haralson, girls cross country, track and field coach
Kimberly Marizol Lopez Valle
Everglades City School
Lopez Valle participated in cross country, volleyball, and also cheerleading all four years, and softball for three with the Gators. She was a team captain in three of them, and FACA All-Academic for three years.
From recommendation letter: "Kimberly treats people with respect, is an outstanding role model, and her sportsmanship equals the highest form of integrity. Kimberly has a mature perspective and cheerful disposition, making her a 'class act.'" — Rebecca Welch, volleyball, boys basketball, baseball coach
First Baptist Academy
Moulzolf starred on the volleyball court and track. She made three state Final Four appearances for the volleyball team, which finished runner-up once. She also has competed in the state track meet in the shot put and the javelin. Moulzolf was first-team All-Area in volleyball as a senior, after earning honorable mention her first three years. She has signed with St. Thomas University (Minn.), which is transitioning to Division I.
From recommendation letter: "Alexa is a very talented athlete, and extremely versatile. I am most impressed by her willingness to serve others, always putting others before herself. Alexa is a leader who leads by example and holds her teammates accountable." — Marci Walker, volleyball coach
Lely High School
Poling competed in cross country and track and field all four years, and in soccer for two. She qualified for the regionals in cross country and track multiple years, and made the state meet in both, and the soccer team made it to regionals both years she played.
From recommendation letter: "One of my favorite things about Ellie is the support system she has built around her. She has learned the value of community, knowing that she can be a support and receive support from those around her." — Sander Langebeeke, cross country and soccer coach
Seacrest Country Day School
Riley earned varsity letters in swimming, basketball and baseball all four years with the Stingrays. He was the baseball Class 2A Player of the Year as a senior after being runner-up as a junior, and was part of the state runners-up as a sophomore. He has signed with Queens (N.C.) for baseball.
From recommendation letter: "In today's era of sports specialization, Matt is a throwback athlete that not only participated in three sports but excelled as the top athlete on each team and one of the top athletes in the region on each team. His confidence, natural athletic gifts and competitive fire are second to none both in practice and in game situations." — Bill Carufe, boys basketball coach
Marco Island Academy
Watt earned varsity letters in cross country, basketball and track all four years, and in baseball for three years. He was team captain in cross country, basketball and baseball as a senior. He made the state track meet as a junior and senior, and led the cross country team to the state meet as a junior.
From recommendation letter: "In the district (track and field) meet, one event he hadn't tried but was interested in was the triple jump. Keeping in mind that we're from Marco Island, we don't have a long/triple jump pit near us so we practiced on the sand volleyball court at our local park. Johnny walks out on the day of the district meet, runs through his triple jump event, and jumps 12.17 meters by the third jump. He took second place overall and qualified for regionals. I have never seen anything like it." — Camden Jones, track and field coach
Community School of Naples
Weiss was one of four student-athletes to earn four varsity letters in a year and did so for three years — earning letters in golf, basketball, track and softball her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was on the varsity softball team for seven seasons. Weiss also finished third in the state in the javelin as a senior. She is headed to the Air Force Academy.
From recommendation letter: "Olivia Weiss, the student and the athlete, carries herself with a poise uncharacteristic of those her age. I watched Olivia travel from javelin, to shot put, to discus (and place in all 3 events for conference), and then drive back to school to load a bus the same day for a softball game." — Kasye Beza, track and field and cross country coach
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/