Football dreams come full circle for Armed Forces Merit Award winner

Steven Rhodes claimed the Armed Forces Merit Award in 2016. The FWAA helps name the winner of the Merit Award along with the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

From Middle Tennessee Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. Middle Tennessee defensive end Steven Rhodes’ incredible four-year journey will come full circle in the next week.

Armed Forces Merit Award winner Steven Rhodes, a former Marine and defensive end at Middle Tennessee State, is flanked by
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State (left) and Athletic Director Chris Massaro at the FWAA’s Awards Breakfast on Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa.
Photo by Melissa Macatee.

The senior Marine veteran and Antioch, Tenn., native will accomplish what he calls “two of the biggest goals in my life” all in the span of eight days. He will graduate from college on Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and then attend rookie minicamp with his hometown Tennessee Titans from May 12-14.

“Finally my dream is starting to take place,” Rhodes said. “It’s something not everyone can say they’ve done, to graduate college and get a chance in the NFL. Especially not having any student loans, that’s even better.

“There’s nothing like playing the sport you love and playing for your hometown. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’m excited to be a Titan.”

It’s often said that students mold the person they will become during their four years at college, and especially during their freshman year. But, for Rhodes, that was a little different.
He wasn’t an 18-year-old kid moving away from home for the first time in his life when he stepped onto MT’s campus in 2013. He was a 25-year-old man who had spent the previous five years fighting for his country as a Marine.

“I think the biggest thing I learned [at college] was I can be pushed to new limits and pushed a lot further than I thought I could go,” Rhodes said. “It’s been a lot being a husband, a father, a full-time college student and a football player. It’s like having 10 jobs and it was very difficult, but it definitely helped mold me, and coming through those tough times made me a better man and a stronger man.”

Rhodes became a beloved member of the Murfreesboro community, being awarded the Daily News Journal Person of the Year award in 2013 during his freshman season for the Blue Raiders. He also became a consistent player on the field and got better each season.

He had never played defensive end before coming to MT, but improved with every game and every practice and capped his four years with a career season in 2016. He set personal highs in tackles (41), tackles for loss (8), quarterback hurries (7) and sacks (4.5), leading the team in the latter three statistics.
How Rhodes was able to focus on his craft as much as he was able to over his four years wasn’t just a credit to his own work ethic. It was a family affair.

He and his wife, Adrienne, have two children: Kameron, 5, and Devon, 4. It was their support and flexibility that helped their dad reach his ultimate dreams.

“My family is my support system, my backbone through all of this,” Rhodes said. “My wife was the one who encouraged me to keep going and never give up, and my two boys, my parents, my brother they all kept me going and kept me motivated and helped make this possible.”

As he prepares this week to showcase his talents in front of the Titans, Rhodes will take some time to reflect back on the special four years he’s had. But, sticking true to what he learned as a Marine, he knows there’s plenty of work to do in order to prove himself, and he’s too disciplined to take a break.

The Armed Forces Merit Award recipient also knows there are a lot of people from another family, his fellow veterans, who are inspired by his story, and he won’t let them down.

“It’s possible to achieve your dreams after active duty, and I’m glad I can show that,” Rhodes said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster … but everything worked out how it was supposed to.

“I’m just really excited and ready to get back to work and back to football.”

 

Call for entries in the 2017 FWAA Best Writing Contest

FWAA members may begin submitting entries in the 2017 Best Writing Contest now.

CATEGORIES

• Game Story (Immediate Deadline)

• Feature Story/Profile

• Enterprise/Investigative

• Column/Analysis/Commentary

BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

In addition, see below, we have created a special award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA board member Malcolm Moran. He is now the director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program, IUPUI.

WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 1, 2017. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.com.

Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted

Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries

Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program)

Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information)

At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:

• Writer(s)

• Publication or online service

• Category

• Date of publication

• E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry

The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).

Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc

The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column

Example: KenStephens-game.doc

Only entries sent electronically will be accepted and all entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s)

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD: If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:

Malcolm Moran

Sports Capital Journalism Program IUPUI

University Library 3100J

755 W. Michigan

Indianapolis, IN 46202

Malcolm’s e-mail is malcolmmoran1@gmail.com. Malcolm and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2016 football season.

Questions? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

Ross Browner to receive Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

Charlotte, N.C. February 15, 2017 — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America and Florida East Coast Railway proudly announces University of Notre Dame great Ross Browner as the recipient of the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, which recognizes outstanding defensive football players from the past 40 years.

The award will be presented formally during the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Awards Banquet presented by ACN on December 4, 2017.

Ross Browner

Ross Browner

“Being name recipient of the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award is a tremendous honor,” Browner said. “I’m so grateful for all the coaches and teammates who encouraged me along the way. It’s such a thrill to accept an award with past winners such as Bubba Smith, Randy Gradishar, Randy White and others.”

“Congratulations to Ross Browner on being named the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipient,” said James R. Hertwig, CEO of Florida East Coast Railway. “Ross’s performance on the field and his dedication to community service make this a well-deserved honor. Florida East Coast Railway takes great pride in our support of the Charlotte Touchdown Club and its mission to promote citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership.”

More…

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet

These photos were shot at the Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet on Jan. 11, 2017, in Omaha. Alabama’s Cam Robinson received the 2016 Outland Trophy, and former Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer received the Tom Osborne Legacy Award.

Photo gallery: 2017 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Reception

Photos from the reception for Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre, the 2016 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, on Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa.

Kirby Smart named keynote speaker for 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet 1

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Charlotte Touchdown Club, in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America, officially announced today Kirby Smart, Head Football Coach at the University of Georgia, as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, December 4th.

“Coach Smart is truly one of college football’s hot young head coaches and we look forward to hearing his take on today’s college football scene at the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Presentation” said John Rocco Executive Director of the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

“As a defensive coordinator for many years, I recognize that the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is one of college football’s most prestigious awards and I look forward to recognizing some of college football’s finest defensive players at the Nagurski Banquet on December 4th,” said University of Georgia Head Football Coach Kirby Smart.

On December 6, 2015, when named Georgia’s Head Football Coach Smart said, “It’s an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state. I’m deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country.”

Kirby Smart

Kirby Smart

Smart, who got his start in coaching as a Georgia administrative assistant in 1999, served on the Alabama staff for nine years, with his final seven seasons as defensive coordinator. During his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide  won three BCS National Championships, one College Football Playoff national title, three Southeastern Conference crowns, six SEC western division titles, and been ranked in the nation’s final top ten rankings eight years in a row.

Smart was recognized as the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football’s top assistant coach. He was also a 2015 finalist for the 2015 Broyles Award. A former standout defensive back and scholar-athlete at Georgia, Smart was one of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators. Smart coached Alabama’s inside linebackers in 2015 after tutoring the safeties in 2014. He also coached the inside linebackers from 2009-12.

Prior to joining the Alabama staff in 2007, Smart spent the 2006 season as safeties coach with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. He served six years on the collegiate level as the running backs coach at Georgia (2005), defensive backs coach at LSU (2004), graduate assistant coach at Florida State (2002-03), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2001) and defensive backs coach (2000) at Valdosta State.

As the running backs coach on Georgia’s 2005 SEC Championship team, Smart’s Bulldogs unit averaged 162.2 rushing yards per game, third in the SEC. He coached Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin—all of whom had NFL careers. In 2004 at LSU, he tutored two NFL draft picks: Corey Webster (2nd round, New York Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round, Miami Dolphins).

As a player, Smart was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia, where he was a first team all-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, which was fourth in Georgia annals, and led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and five in 1998. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia and his master’s degree from Florida State in 2003.

A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Smart received his BBA degree in Finance from the University of Georgia in 1998 and his M.S. in Physical Education from Florida State in 2003. He is married to the former Mary Beth Lycett of McDonough, Ga., a four-year letter winner on the Georgia women’s basketball team from 2000-2003. The couple are the proud parents of twins Weston and Julia and son Andrew.

About ACN, Inc.

Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy and essential services for residential and business customers. ACN provides the services people need and use every day including home phone service, high-speed internet, wireless, television, home security and automation, computer support and natural gas and electricity. ACN operates in 24 countries with offices located throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. For more information, visit myacn.com. For information on ACN’s home-based business opportunity, visit acninc.com.

About Florida East Coast Railway

FECR is a regional freight railroad that extends along a 351-mile corridor between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami, Fla., with exclusive rail access to the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) and the Port of Miami. For more information, visit fecrwy.com

About Electrolux

Electrolux is a global leader in appliances for household and professional use, selling more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 countries every year. The company focuses on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers and air-conditioners sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, Frigidaire, Kelvinator, AEG, and Eureka. In 2012, Electrolux had sales of $17 billion ($5.1 billion in North America) and 58,000 employees. The Electrolux North American headquarters is located at 10200 David Taylor Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262 in the University Research Park.  For more information visit http://newsroom.electrolux.com/us/.

About The Independence Fund

The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives. Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future. The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence. To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2,000,000 to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics.  For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, NC.  All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL   704-347-2918 or visit www.touchdownclub.com.

FWAA announces 2016 Freshman All-America Team

DALLAS (FWAA) — The 16th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team, presented by Sound Mind Sound Body camps, was announced Monday and includes one player who will appear in the College Football Playoff National Championship later Monday — Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

“Dexter is obviously very gifted from the standpoint of the physicality it takes to play inside,” said Tigers’ defensive line coach Dan Brooks, the AFCA assistant coach of the year.

“We opened the season at Auburn and threw him in the mix, and he had our first sack of the season. Dexter is a very coachable young man with a great attitude who is mature beyond his years.”

soundmindsoundbodyThe 10 FBS conferences are each represented with at least one player on the team, and there are two players from schools with independent status.

The SEC and Big Ten each placed six players on the 34-member team, while the Pac-12 and ACC had five players from their respective conferences.

Other 2017 College Football Playoff participants on the Freshman All-American team are Taylor Rapp (safety, Washington), Mike Weber (tailback, Ohio State), Dre’Mont Jones (defensive lineman, Ohio State) and Michael Jordan (offensive lineman, Ohio State).

The First Year Coach of the Year Award had co-winners for the first time since its inception 15 years ago, with Virginia Tech Justin Fuente and USC’s Clay Helton sharing the award.

Helton, in his first full season as the Trojans’ head coach, led USC to nine consecutive victories to close the season, including a stirring 52-49 Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.

Fuente was selected as the ACC Coach of the Year, guiding the Hokies to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2011.

A 12-person panel of nationally prominent writers represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team.

Both true freshmen (20 players) and redshirt freshmen (14 players) were considered for the team and are so noted on the list below.

There are six former Freshmen All-Americans involved in tonight’s game.

From Alabama

  • Outland Trophy winner Cam Robinson (2014)
  • All-SEC punter JK Scott (2014)
  • Receiver Calvin Ridley (2015)
  • Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2015)

From Clemson

  • All-ACC offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt (2015)
  • Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (2015)

2016 FWAA Freshman All-America Team

OFFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. / Wt. Hometown
QB Sam Darnold** USC 6-4 / 225 Capistrano Beach, Calif.
RB Mike Weber** Ohio State 5-10 / 212 Detroit, Mich.
RB Benny Snell* Kentucky 5-11 / 220 Westerville, Ohio
RB Justice Hill* Oklahoma State 5-10 / 171 Tulsa, Okla.
WR Ahmmon Richards* Miami (Fla.) 6-1 / 192 Wellington, Fla.
WR Demetris Robertson* California 6-0 / 175 Savannah, Ga.
WR Ty Lee* Middle Tennessee 5-9 / 155 Moultrie, Ga.
TE Isaac Nauta* Georgia 6-4 / 246 Buford, Ga.
OL Michael Jordan* Ohio State 6-7 / 310 Canton, Mich.
OL Jawaan Taylor* Florida 6-5 / 340 Cocoa, Fla.
OL Ryan Bates** Penn State 6-4 / 305 Warrington, Pa.
OL Thomas Shoaf ** BYU 6-5 / 280 Columbus, Ind.
OL Ben Bredeson* Michigan 6-5 / 310 Hartland, Wis.
OL Zach Shackelford* Texas 6-3 / 290 Belton, Texas
AP Donnie Corley* Michigan State 6-2 / 186 Detroit, Mich.

DEFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. / Wt. Hometown
DL Ed Oliver* Houston 6-2 / 290 Houston, Texas
DL Dexter Lawrence* Clemson 6-5 / 340 Wake Forest, N.C.
DL Brian Burns* Florida State 6-5 / 218 Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DL Dre’Mont Jones** Ohio State 6-3 / 280 Cleveland, Ohio
DL Reggie Walker** Kansas State 6-2 / 239 Ponchatoula, La.
LB Logan Wilson** Wyoming 6-2 / 225 Casper, Wyo.
LB Troy Dye* Oregon 6-4 / 225 Norco, Calif.
LB Leo Lewis** Mississippi State 6-2 / 240 Brookhaven, Miss.
LB Josiah Tauaefa** UTSA 6-1 / 230 Corinth, Texas
LB David Reese* Florida 6-0 / 244 Farmington, Mich.
DB Xavier Crawford** Oregon State 6-1 / 182 Pittsburg, Calif.
DB Javon Hagan** Ohio 6-0 / 211 Jacksonville, Fla.
DB Taylor Rapp* Washington 6-0 / 202 Bellingham, Wash.
DB Jessie Bates** Wake Forest 6-2 / 200 Fort Wayne, Ind.
DB Clifton Duck* Appalachian State 5-10 / 175 Matthews, N.C.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos. Name School Ht. / Wt. Hometown
K Rodrigo Blannkenship** Georgia 6-1 / 191 Marietta, Ga.
P Tom Sheldon* North Carolina 6-3 / 200 Echuca, Victoria, Australia
KR Tony Pollard** Memphis 5-11 / 200 Memphis, Tenn.
PR Malik McGue* Army 5-8 / 174 Johnson City, Tenn.

* True Freshman

** Redshirt Freshman

Co-First Year Coaches of the Year

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Clay Helton, USC

Clay Helton, USC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach of the Year semifinalist: Kalani Sitake, BYU.

FWAA All-America selection committee:

Lee Barfknecht (Big Ten)
Mark Anderson (MWC) 
Mark Blaudschun (ACC)
Andrew Greif (Pac-12)
Tommy Hicks (Sun Belt)
Blair Kerkhoff (Big 12)
Doug Smock (American Athletic)
Ron Higgins (SEC)
Phil Stukenborg (C-USA)
John Wagner (MAC)
Mike Griffith (Chair/Independents) 
Steve Richardson (FWAA Executive Director)

 

Cotton Bowl’s Charlie Fiss receives FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award 1

charlie-fiss-110916

Charlie Fiss, winner of the FWAA’s 2017 Bert McGrane Award. (Photo by Melissa Macatee)

TAMPA —The Cotton Bowl Athletic Association’s Charlie Fiss is in the unique position to accept a second Bert McGrane Award today at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast.

Only this Bert McGrane Award he gets to keep.

About 17 years ago, Fiss accepted the Bert McGrane Award on behalf of the late Field Scovell and then turned the plaque over to the family after he returned to Dallas from the presentation at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

Fiss, in his 33rd year working for the Cotton Bowl, becomes the fourth person from the CBAA to receive the Bert McGrane Award, which is presented annually to a member of the FWAA for distinguished service to the organization and college football. Wilbur Evans (1978), Jim Brock (1989) and Scovell (1999) are the other CBAA recipients.

“Charlie Fiss perhaps more than anyone has been part of the fabric of the FWAA for the last 30 years,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson, who made the introduction of Fiss in Tampa. “He nearly predates modern computers when it comes to putting together the FWAA Print Directory and mailing list.”

The Award was established in 1974 as a memorial to McGrane, long-time Des Moines Register-Tribune sports writer who was one of the founding members of the FWAA. He was the FWAA’s Executive Director from the early 1940’s until 1973.

“The FWAA and the Cotton Bowl share a special relationship,” Rick Baker, CBAA President/CEO, said. “Charlie has been a leader with his steadfast approach to our partnership with the FWAA. Through his extraordinary efforts over three decades, he’s made a lasting impact on the Cotton Bowl, the FWAA and college football. No one is more deserving. I’m proud that Charlie joins an illustrious group of Cotton Bowl representatives to win the Bert McGrane Award.”

Richardson added: “He is meticulous. Period. End of story. He stews over the mailing list and all parts of the directory he is responsible for and some that he is not. He has been a champion of the FWAA in terms of what is provided during his bowl week — access to players and coaches and maintaining strict standards of decorum in the press box itself.

“Charlie runs a model press operation at the Cotton Bowl. For years the Cotton Bowl has been an example of how it should be done. He puts together a bowl operations staff that is second to none. I think most people in the profession, whether it be writers, sports information directions or other bowl executives, know that, but it also needs to be said.”

His first Cotton Bowl was in 1984, during which time he was serving as the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Southwest Conference from 1984-1993. In 1994, Charlie was hired by the CBAA to serve as the Vice President of Communications and became a fulltime member of the staff.

Through his 30-plus years with the Cotton Bowl, he has worked with six Heisman Trophy winners, including Boston College’s Doug Flutie in his very first Cotton Bowl game.

Charlie is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he served as the Men’s Media Assistant from 1976-1980, and then as the Women’s Athletic Director of Media Relations from 1980-1984. As an avid racehorse fan, Charlie still volunteers for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, where he has done so for more than 25 years.

In between trips to Great Britain to feed his Beatles’ craze, annual pilgrimages to Disneyland to pay homage to Walt and strumming the guitar, Charlie still runs the Cotton Bowl Media operations by commuting from Phoenix, where he resides.

“Whoever would have dreamed I would have even seen one Heisman Trophy winner much less work around six,” Fiss said.  “I got to know Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles, all these people you read about in the sports pages, you know when you are growing up. … It really has been an interesting life. I have been blessed and pretty lucky to be involved in this business.

“We like to say in the Cotton Bowl we are in the business of making memories,” Fiss added. “If it wasn’t for the student athlete none of us would have jobs. I try to think of that every day. And I think when they are coming to the Cotton Bowl, they are just not thinking about playing in the Cotton Bowl, they are going to make memories which they are going to have forever.”

Ohio youth named Meece Scholarship winner

Dolen Helwagen of Pataskala, Ohio, was named the 20th winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship on Monday.

The scholarship is awarded annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named for the late Volney Meece. Meece served 22 years as the FWAA’s executive director and was the organization’s president in 1971.

The scholarship is a $1,000 annual grant for four years. It is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.

The 17-year-old Helwagen is the daughter of long-time FWAA member Steve Helwagen.

Dolen has compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements in her four years at Watkins Memorial High School. She maintained a 4.182 weighted GPA while taking a strenuous load of advanced placement and honors classes. She also scored 30-plus on the ACT.

A member of the National Honor Society and on the student council four years, Dolen was a two-time co-captain of the varsity tennis team. She’s in the Watkins Memorial concert choir, was a Buckeye Girls State delegate and a Rotary International ambassador.

Kathleen Berry, a member of the Watkins Memorial faculty, wrote in her letter of recommendation: “Dolen’s impressive GPA and ACT score speaks volumes about her inherent intelligence and work ethic. Her contagious enthusiasm and commitment to excellence both in the classroom and on the tennis court make her one of the most emulated leaders in our school.”

Previous winners of the Volney Meece Scholarship:

1997  Brett Goering  Topeka, Kan.
1998  Kelly Brooks  Denver, Colo.
1999  James Butz  Schaumberg, Ill.
2000  Sara Barnhart  Atlanta, Ga.
2001  Patrick Davis  Coventry, Conn.
2002  Jacqueline O’Toole  Gaithersburg, Md.
2003  Garrett Holtz  Denver, Colo.
2004  Katie Hersom  Oklahoma City, Okla.
2005  Katie Wieberg  Lawson, Mo.
2006  Kaylynn Monroe  Winter Park, Fla.
2007  Nate Kerkhoff  Overland Park, Kan.
2008  Jack Caywood  Lawrence, Kan.
2009  Haley Dodd  Overland Park, Kan.
2010  Donald Hunt  Philadelphia, Pa.
2011  Alaina Martens  Papillion, Neb.
2012  Emily Alford  Tupelo, Miss.
2013  Sarah Helsley  Edmond, Okla.
2014 Robert Abramson Palos Verde, Calif.
2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.