FORT WALTON BEACH – The dream for Tyler Cohen has always been collegiate golf.
Multiple offers from Division I schools up North and smaller, local schools affirm that reality for the reigning Daily News Golfer of the Year, a three-time state qualifier who helped lead Fort Walton Beach to a runner-up state finish this season.
Yet, as Monday’s Male Scholastic Award manifested, Cohen is much more than a pretty swing and red number.
Embodying the student-first, athlete-second mantra that high schools promote, the Fort Walton Beach senior was surprised with the honor on Monday by family, friends, administration and – this being Vikings country – a drum line during first-period lunch.
“I thought it was about Emma’s Heisman thing,” said a shocked Cohen, who shared the stage with Female Scholastic Award winner Emma Rudman. “It was such a surprise because there are so many great people competing this year, so I knew it’d be tough.”
Cohen is the second straight Vikings male to earn the award, following current University of Florida runner Trey LaNasa, and he joins a lauded list of past winners that includes Fort Walton Beach’s Danny Wuerffel, Niceville’s Roy Finch and Pensacola’s Emmitt Smith just to name a few.
“He’s been working hard,” said Tyler’s dad, Cliff. “The thing that makes us the happiest about it is – well, there are a couple of things – first, the previous recipients. It’s really an honor to be considered and be added to that group. And also Tyler takes school more seriously than sports. So to be considered the consummate student-athlete is the other part of that.”
Cohen is ranked 10th in his class with a 4.43 GPA, a stat that holds more meaning than his district title 67, team-leading 74 at regionals and second-day 75 at state.
“I’ve definitely put an emphasis on academics,” Cohen said. “I’ve had to work harder to get good grades and that’s what you build your future around, academics.
“Getting to the next level in golf is important, but getting a good education while I’m at it is important as well. It’s just about prioritizing what’s important.”