Last week, Pensacola took the opportunity to recognize another one of our local sports stars, Bubba Watson, for his Masters Championship. It was a great honor to have been included as part of the on-field ceremony along side the communtiy leaders handing out cudos and hardware for Bubba to take back to one of his new homes and display with pride (or stick in a closet). The crowd welcomed him with warmth and enthusiasm, even helping him with their cheers as he gathered his emotions on several occasions. The media coverage was amazing as I had to work my way around the many paparazzi style cameras positioning themselves around the target celebrity, each after the best angle for that one shot, so I could hand him the award I was there to give him.
I have been lucky enough to be invited to a few of these type moments and they are a neat part of my job and I look forward to the next one, whenever and wherever it may occur.
But I will submit to you that the very best honor and feeling in my job has nothing to do with Bubba Watson, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Pate, Roy Jones Jr., Justin Gatlin or any of the other superstars from my hometown.
I would argue to you that the very best local sports heroes story of last week was missed by the media virtually entirely. On Tuesday night, at Olive Baptist Church with a crowd of over 700 student athletes, parents, friends and admistrators, the PSA’s 33rd Annual Senior Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet was held. The night truly celebrated the best youth our area has to offer. The future of our country will be lead by many of these athletes who have proven through their combined successes in the classroom and on the playing fields their ability to balance priorities. Shown in the photo are from left to right – Norris McMahon, PSA Foundation President , Ryan Funk (Pace High), Mary Kathryn Taylor (Pace) the overall winners, and Charlie Sherrill, PSA Board of Directors President.
As the current NCAA television campaign so properly states, most of these student athletes recognized over the past 33 years went “professional in fields other than sports”, many have become professional and leaders throughout our community at the very higest level.
Oh yea, Derrick Brooks was a Senior Scholar Athlete and he has used those important lessons he learned at Booker T. Washington High School to position himself as a respected business and community leader on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Pensacola is truly blessed to have so many diverse stars and champions in the sport world. I dare say few, if any communitites our size can boast such successes.
Congratulations and I wish for continued success to you all.
Ray Palmer, PSA Executive Director