FREEPORT – It was a couple of weeks ago that Brian Haugen, serving as a fill-in speaker on behalf of the Taylor Haugen Foundation at the Freeport Kiwanis meeting, first encountered Collin Myrick.
Myrick, a senior at Freeport High School who was recently selected as a national finalist for the 2011 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, was sitting in the audience.
The previous night, Haugen first learned of Myrick while reading over a pile applications for this year’s Taylor Haugen Trophy, an award given annually to a local senior student-athlete that best demonstrates a balance of academics, athleticism, leadership, community service and faith, qualities that personified Taylor Haugen, Brian’s son, who was 15 years old when he died on Aug. 30, 2008 from complications that arose from a hit he suffered the previous night during the Niceville football team’s Kickoff Classic at Fort Walton Beach.
Myrick’s application was in that pile.
“I could not believe it,” Haugen recalled. “I got a chance to meet the guy whose application I had just read for the first time the night before. I believe there’s such thing as a God thing and that was one of them.”
On Friday, inside a packed Freeport High School auditorium, their paths crossed once more, this time by design. Haugen, his wife Kathy, and past winners Caise Vickery and Garrett Teal presented Myrick with the 2012 Taylor Haugen Trophy.
“It’s really such an honor to receive something of this magnitude,” a still shocked Myrick said. “There’s a lot of great things happening in my life lately and I believe that’s a sign God is working in my life.”
Myrick becomes the fourth recipient of the award, which was first handed out in Feb. of 2008. Vickery, a former multiple-sport standout at Fort Walton Beach, received that inaugural award. On Friday, he helped present this year’s trophy after manning the first-ever committee made up of past winners to hold face-to-face interviews with finalists for this year’s award.
“In past years we’ve just looked at applications and its’ been hard to find that ‘oomph’ factor in a piece of paper,” Vickery said.
They found just that in Myrick.
Myrick will graduate first in his class with a weighted GPA of 4.4 and has been involved with the Key Club, National Honor Society, Student Government, Student Body as well as a member of the Freeport football, basketball and baseball teams. Myrick has also logged over 600 hours of community service.
“We liked him on paper … after the interview, he just blew us away,” Teal, last year’s winner, said. “It’s more than picking an award winner, it’s like adding a member to the family.”
Brian Haugen called Myrick’s body of work – both on the field and off – exceptional.
“Collin just jumped out to us right off the bat, not just because of the (Wendy’s High School) Heisman, but because of the depth of his character and experience,” Haugen said. “It was just shocking.
“All the things the kid has done, in just a short amount of time, I don’t know if most of us could get those accomplishments in a lifetime.”