Monday, October 25, 2021

Gibbs and Stone Named Florida’s Top Scholar-Athletes, Combining Academic Excellence with Athletic Achievement



Two dozen outstanding student-athletes celebrated at awards event 

Reflecting its commitment to honoring academic achievement just as much as athletic success, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) last night named Stephen Gibbs of Altamonte Springs and Katherine Stone of Fort Walton Beach as Florida’s Scholar Athletes of the Year. The winners of the state’s most prestigious honor for student-athletes came during a banquet recognizing all 24 members of FHSAA’s Academic All-State Team.

Gibbs and Stone maintained outstanding grade point averages while also excelling in multiple sports, representing FHSAA’s highest ideals for student-athletes.

“The 24 members of this year’s Academic All-State Team represent the best and brightest high school students Florida has to offer, and Stephen and Katherine embody the true spirit of academic and athletic accomplishment,” said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing. “We are extremely proud of all they have achieved and can be pleased knowing that young people of this caliber are taking a place in our communities as future leaders.”

Monday night’s Academic All-State Awards Banquet brought together the 12 boys and 12 girls from around Florida who, through great dedication and hard work, were honored for their success both as students and as athletes. While FHSAA is best known for overseeing high school athletics, the organization also regularly recognizes student-athletes for their exemplary achievements in academics and service to their community.

Stephen Gibbs attended Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, where he played basketball, football and volleyball. He also contributed to his community by participating in service events such as Adopt-A-Road cleanups and volunteering at football camps. Stephen graduated with a 4.0 GPA and plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Florida.

Katherine Stone lettered in soccer, swimming and diving, and track and field at Fort Walton Beach High School, where she graduated first in her class with a 4.82 weighted GPA. Last summer, Katherine was a residential intern at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the Materials Engineering Branch, where she helped research launch pad failures. She will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she will major in materials science and engineering.

Each of the 24 Academic All-State Team members will receive a $1,000 scholarship from FHSAA, and Gibbs and Stone will receive additional $3,000 scholarships.

To be eligible for selection to the Academic All-State Team, a student must be a graduating senior, have a cumulative unweighted grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and earned a varsity letter in at least two different sports during each of his or her junior and senior years. Members were selected based on academic record, athletic participation, non-athletic activities, community service and an essay. The 24 members distinguished themselves from among more than 200 qualified nominees attending 695 FHSAA member high schools.

FHSAA is the governing body for high school athletics in Florida, but its mission goes far beyond athletics. To FHSAA, a student-athlete is most importantly a student first. The Academic All-State Awards Banquet furthers FHSAA’s commitment to recognizing student athletes who have exemplified outstanding dedication not only to athletic excellence but also to academic achievement and service to the community.

In addition to Gibbs and Stone, members of the Academic All-State Team are:

Christa Bergquist, Evangelical Christian School, Fort Myers – Over her high school career, Christa lettered in five different varsity sports (volleyball, basketball, track and field, cross country and swimming). She also was also actively involved in theater. She recently graduated first in her class at Evangelical Christian School and is planning to double major in biomedical science and English, with a minor in theater, at the University of Central Florida.

James Briggs, St. Petersburg Catholic High School, St. Petersburg – A three-sport athlete (football, soccer, track and field), James earned straight A’s and started on every sports team on which he played. James was a student government officer throughout high school, was captain of the football, soccer, and track teams, and managed to earn his Eagle Scout rank.  He graduated third in his class with a GPA of 3.95. James plans to major in engineering at the University of Central Florida.

Alex Brody, Miami Country Day School, Miami – Alex balanced school, sports practice and his love for connecting with his peers throughout high school. Alex lettered in baseball and swimming and graduated with 4.0 GPA. He will attend the University of Michigan.

Alexander Carames, St. Joseph Academy, St. Augustine – Alexander played football and basketball and ran track for St. Joseph Academy, and also is a third-degree black belt in martial arts. Over the summer Alexander volunteers as a buddy at Camp Promise for disabled children and went on two mission trips to Jamaica. He graduated first in his class and will be attending Columbia University to study economics.

Taylor Cogsil, The Benjamin School, Palm Beach Gardens – Taylor was a three sport-athlete (cross country, soccer, and track), though she had a slightly difference entrance into high school. Because Taylor was a year ahead in school, her mother decided it would be more beneficial for Taylor to spend a year before high school circumnavigating the globe. Mother and daughter visited nine countries, using their backpacks as suitcases. Taylor graduated second in her class with a 4.0 GPA and will attend Yale University to study pre-medicine.

Caroline Coleman, Boone High School, Orlando –  A three-sport athlete, Caroline played tennis and ran cross country and track and field. She was also involved with Math Club and served as sport editor of her high school yearbook. Caroline graduated first in her class with a 4.0 GPA, and will attend the University of Georgia to study pre-medicine.

Shelby Davidson, Cocoa Beach High School, Cocoa Beach –  An International Baccalaureate student at Cocoa Beach High School, Shelby ran cross country and track, and will be attending the University of Florida on a running scholarship. Although she plans to study interior design, her ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2016. During high school she sewed dresses for girls in Africa and was involved with National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, student government and the Turtle Awareness club, among others.

James Davis, Eastside High School, Gainesville – James, a three-sport athlete (cross country, soccer and track and field), maintained a weighted GPA of 5.00 and graduated first in his class. In addition to sports and academics, James also excelled in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, placing third in the nation, and contributed to service projects through such organizations as Students Together for Autism Research and Children Beyond Our Borders. James will attend Georgetown University to double-major in biology and economics. James plans to walk on to the track team and also play club soccer.

Andrea Esinhart, Chamberlain High School, Tampa – Andrea lettered in golf, soccer, and track and field in high school. She was also a member of concert choir all four years and a member of six nationally recognized clubs: National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National English Honor Society, BETA, Mu Alpha Theta and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Andrea worked as a YMCA gymnastics camp coach and participated in the Mayor’s Youth Corp & Leadership Council of Tampa, as well as Girl Scouts. She will attend the University of Florida to study nursing.

Rachel Gilbert, The Pine School, Hobe Sound –  Rachel was a three-sport athlete, competing in soccer, lacrosse and cross country. She also graduated first in her class. Outside of school Rachel volunteers in The Outreach Program for Soccer every week, where she works with special needs children. She will attend the University of Richmond, where she plans to major in neuroscience.

Samuel Jones, Seven Rivers Christian School, Lecanto – Sam grew up playing sports and spending time outdoors, and lettered in four sports during high school: baseball, basketball, cross country, and track and field. When his family adopted a younger daughter who has cerebral palsy, Sam found a passion for working with special needs children. He has worked at Camp Blessings Texas, a Christian camp for special needs youth in Texas, for the past four summers and will be on staff again this summer. Sam will attend the University of Alabama, where he plans to study electrical engineering and mathematics.

Neil MacInnes, Chamberlain High School, Tampa –  Neil graduated first in his class after completing coursework that included 15 AP courses, 11honors classes, four dual-enrollment classes and six virtual school classes. Neil also lettered in football, soccer, track and field, and marching band. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout during his junior year and served as a senior patrol leader. Neil will attend the University of Florida, where he plans to major in materials science and engineering as a precursor to dental school.

Devin McDermott, Lakewood Ranch High School, Bradenton – Devin finished in the upper echelon of her graduating class with a 3.96 GPA while lettering in cross country, soccer, and track and field. She was a national finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award and won a state title in track. She was also involved with TV production, yearbook and newspaper during high school. Devin earned a cross country scholarship at the University of Florida, where she plans to study telecommunications and journalism.

Mark Mutz, Lakeland Christian School, Lakeland –  Mark lettered in cross country and track and field while maintaining a 3.89 GPA. Mark performed more than 850 community service hours in both domestic and foreign service, working in such places as Uganda, Guatemala and Central Asia. Mark will be attending the University of Florida, where he plans to study accounting.

Collin Myrick, Freeport High School, Freeport –  Collin graduated first in his class with an unweighted GPA of 4.0. A natural leader, he was team captain for the basketball, baseball, football, cross country and golf teams, and also served as student body president, Key Club and History Club president, and National Honor Society vice president. Outside of school, he performed more than 1,250 hours of volunteer community service. He will study engineering at Auburn University.

Kali Nordquist, Ida S. Baker High School, Cape Coral – A four-year varsity letter winner in volleyball and track and field, Kali graduated second in her class and earned opportunities in STEM@Work and FIRST Robotics through her coursework in engineering and architectural drafting. She was also President of her district National Honor Society, where she used this platform to organize four district-wide fundraisers to support local charities. Her other volunteer commitments include Relay for Life, Bill Austin Youth Center and CCMI Soup Kitchen, among others. Kali will study chemical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Denzel Paige, North Broward Preparatory School, Coconut Creek –  Denzel maintained a 3.75 GPA while lettering repeatedly in basketball, football, and track and field. He was accepted to two of the most prestigious and challenging Ivy League universities and chose to attend Harvard University, where he plans to study economics.

Nicholas Rougraff, Barron G. Collier High School, Naples –  Nicholas lettered in swimming and diving, soccer, and track and field. He was also a four-year member of the marching band, becoming a section leader during his sophomore year. Nicholas graduated third in his class after attaining a 5.68 weighted GPA through a vigorous course load that included 15 AP courses. He was involved with the Academic Team, Envirothon, Key Club and National Honor Society. He will attend Cornell University, where he will study biology with plans to attend medical school.

Apurv Surman, Oak Hall School, Gainesville – Apurv has found a balance among athletics, academics and the arts. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA after lettering in football, tennis and weightlifting, and plays the saxophone and acts. He is self-taught in the Python programming language and geometry. He will attend Yale University, where he will study computer science and economics.

Rose Walsh, Bishop Kenny High School, Jacksonville – Rose lettered in basketball and volleyball before graduating third in her class with a 4.0 GPA while attending Bishop Kenny High School. She was accepted into the honors college at three different universities and as a presidential scholar at another, but ultimately decided to attend the University of Notre Dame, where she will study business administration.

Marina Kay Wiatt, Marathon High School, Marathon – Graduating with a perfect 4.0 unweighted GPA, Marina Kay graduated first in her class. A three-sport varsity athlete in cross country, soccer and tennis, she is also a National Merit Scholarship winner and an AP Scholar with Distinction, and has been awarded the prestigious Lombardi Scholarship by the University of Florida. Among her many community activities, Marina Kay has served for three years on the board of directors for the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. She will attend the University of Florida, where she plans to study biological/biomedical engineering.

Lily Williams, Lawton Chiles High School, Tallahassee – After a lifetime of informal athletic pursuits, Lily took up athletics seriously during her freshman year, when she pursued cross country and track and field.  She excelled in both, while also graduating with a 3.98 GPA. She will attend Vanderbilt University, where she will study biology.


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