The Taylor Haugen Trophy and $1000 award are offered in the memory of Taylor Reid Haugen, Class of 2011. In conjunction with the All Sports Association the Taylor Haugen Foundation presents The Taylor Haugen Trophy and scholarship to a local athlete each winter at the All Sports Association FCA breakfast. The Foundation recognizes well-rounded individuals who demonstrate the perseverance to improve themselves in all aspects of life while enjoying God’s gifts to the fullest.
The Northwest Florida Daily News covered the 2011 Taylor Haugen Trophy selection process and the Foundation described what the Trophy represents.
January 5, 2011 – Brian Haugen’s voice catches a little as he sits back in a chair and recalls his son Taylor as a fifth-grade football player.
“He was the worst player on the team,” Haugen said. “And he couldn’t accept that.”
Taylor Haugen, “T” to his friends, had visions of being a star wide receiver and wasn’t about to settle for anything less.
His father recalled fondly how Taylor stuck with the game he loved, stayed long after practice to improve his skills and then worked some more when he got home.
“He always had a football in his hand,” Brian Haugen said.
At the time of Taylor Haugen’s tragic 2008 death at 15 from injuries suffered on the football field, he had become the starting wide receiver for Niceville High School’s junior varsity team.
The winner of the third Taylor Haugen Trophy, which will be announced today, honors a high school athlete who carries a high grade point average, plans to attend college and is active spiritually and in the community.
But what the winner really needs to set himself or herself apart from the competition is the never-say-die spirit of the person for whom the trophy is named.
“It’s hard to articulate T’s character …” Brian Haugen said.
“But it’s the separating item in our selection process,” finished Steve Boswell, president of the All Sports Association of Northwest Florida.
This year’s Taylor Haugen Trophy winner was chosen recently from among 13 nominees.
The selection was made by four members of the All Sports Association board, five members of the Taylor Haugen Foundation board and, significantly, the two previous winners.
Boswell said the previous winners interview the finalists and play a huge role in finding that subjective character trait that sets them apart.
“Every year the winner has been determined from the input we’ve gotten from the kids,” said Boswell. “It’s so powerful to hear these kids. They’re telling us adults, ‘that’s what this is about.’ ”
Caise Vickery of Fort Walton Beach High School and Shannon Donahue of Rocky Bayou Christian School, the first two Taylor Haugen Trophy winners, knew Taylor and know the traits they’re looking for in the next recipient, Brian Haugen said.
Fed by donations from 36 states and four countries, overseen by an active board and in league with the All Sports Association, the foundation has grown strong.
“This community has been extremely generous to the foundation,” said foundation board Chairwoman Yvonne Freeman.
The health of the foundation leads Brian Haugen and others to conclude that there will come a time when nominees for the trophy won’t be as familiar with Taylor Haugen’s story. They won’t know of his death or the strength of character that allowed him to shine on the football field.
Brian Haugen said he takes comfort in contemplating how far into the future his son’s influence could reach.
“This award has had such a positive impact on this community. It touches so many people. His legacy lives on,” he said. “It inspires me to think that people who never knew T will be remembering him because his legacy is that strong.”
The Taylor Haugen Trophy will be presented in February at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes prayer breakfast held in conjunction with the All Sports Association’s annual awards ceremony.
The Foundation Directors want to extend their sincere appreciation to local sculptor, Linda King, whose custom Trophy so richly captures Taylor’s spirit and drive. To learn more about Mrs. King visit http://lindakingsculptures.com/.