Freeport High School’s Mary Kate Myrick 2015 Taylor Haugen Trophy Recipient
FREEPORT, FL (January 9, 2015)— The planning was kept such a secret that when Freeport principal Tripp Hope pulled Mary Kate Myrick from her morning class, the senior thought she was in trouble.
That wouldn’t make sense, though, because as her mother said, “Mary Kate never gets in trouble.”
No, it was the complete opposite of punishment, but everyone involved kept her winning the prestigious Taylor Haugen Trophy and award a secret until the moment she walked into the school’s media center.
“When I got her, I said, ‘Look, we thought you filled out this scholarship. This is easy money. When we looked, you hadn’t,’ ” Hope said. “So I told her I had to pick something up in the media center. We got right around the corner and she saw it and I said, ‘This is for you.’”
The 2015 winner of the Taylor Haugen Trophy and award, consisting of a $1,000 scholarship, said she wasn’t exactly sure what was happening until seeing the crowd, and then the trophy amid a large group of friends, family members and the award’s committee members.
“I had no idea,” Myrick said. “One of my friends texted me and asked, ‘Are you doing anything in the library today?’ I replied, ‘No.’ … I came in and saw a few people I knew and then saw my parents and the Haugens and ran to them.”
The award is an annual honor given each winter in conjunction with the All Sports Association. Haugen, a member of the Niceville football and wrestling teams, died in the fall of 2008 from internal injuries from a hit during a junior varsity football game. Nominees for the award must be seniors at an Okaloosa, Santa Rosa or Walton county high school, have participated in a high school sport, have a 3.0 or higher grade point average, be an active participant in community service and plan to attend a four-year accredited college.
“Somebody once told us this trophy reminds us of a Christian Heisman trophy for high school,” said Brian Haugen, Taylor’s father. “I think our son (Taylor) would be honored to be related to something of that caliber.
“Mary Kate shined above the rest. It was a very hard decision. There were some phenomenal nominees this year, by far the most competitive so far.”
Jim Anderson, Freeport’s athletic director, summed up any area sports fan’s disappointment when Myrick tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee last fall.
She missed the remainder of her volleyball season and is expected to miss all of the basketball season.
“It’s tough,” Myrick said. “The basketball game (Thursday) was hard. Everyone was up and down the court, having fun. It was one of those games you really want to be part of.”
It’s not just any season, but her senior season.
And not just her senior season that ended, but a potentially record-breaking senior season.
It was one sure to end with awards and recognitions — and maybe team accomplishments.
“I’ll put it to you this way,” said Tina Knight, her volleyball coach. “This was our year. We had a goal. That wasn’t me thinking that. We all felt that way. This was the year. I had seven seniors. She was the No. 1 outside hitter for us. … I was looking at the stats. Mary Kate at the time had just about as many kills halfway through the season as the girl who got the Most Valuable Player award for my team at the season’s end.”
Student-athletes are nominated by their coach, and the individual school’s principal, athletic director and Fellowship of Christian Athletes advisor selects one to represent the school.
Then, a committee consisting of All Sports Association and Taylor Haugen Foundation members selects the one winner.
The winner in 2012 was Collin Myrick, older brother of Mary Kate and a 2012 Freeport graduate.
Like his sister, who will join him next fall at Auburn University, he was completely shocked when receiving the award.
“They asked me to come up to the stage. I was standing there for 15 or 20 seconds,” he recalled. “Then the opened the curtains behind me and my parents, the Haugens and the past winners were behind me. At that point, I knew what was going on. … I didn’t know the timeline for any announcement.”
Neither did this year’s winner, who after the announcement and picturetaking rush was thinking back to that initial fearful feeling when her principal interrupted her morning classroom routine.
“It’s usually never a good thing when the principal comes and gets you in class,” she said.
This time was one of those exceptions.
To learn more about the Taylor Haugen Trophy and the Taylor Haugen Foundation, visit http://taylorhaugen.org/.
Devin Golden is a sportswriter for the Northwest Florida Daily News. He can be reached at (850)315-4476, on Twitter at @DGoldnwfdn or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org