NICEVILLE – Niceville senior Sydney Dawson had a guidance counselor meeting on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
At least that was the cover story her mom told her so she would stay at school after her day of classes ended. The real reason Dawson had to stay at Niceville High School was a surprise: Members of the All Sports Association were on hand to announce her as the organization’s 2017 Female Scholastic Award winner.
“I’m really surprised. I didn’t realize I was even nominated,” Dawson said after a brief ceremony. “But it means a lot. I’m excited. It means a lot to actually have something to consolidate the fact that I worked hard (academically and athletically) for my whole high school career.”
For her accomplishment, Dawson will be recognized on Feb. 10 at the All Sports Association Awards Banquet at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
For the first time ever, the All Sports Association scrubbed the names and high schools from the 12 applicants so members voted solely on credentials. Dawson’s application included 13 state swimming medals as well as a GPA higher than 4.0 in all AP classes.
Said All Sports Association president Joe Fagundes, “Sydney, through our membership and the open voting that we have, just stood out … We have 12 high schools that submit and Sydney came out the clear winner. She’s just a great character young lady, obviously great achievements in swimming, great achievements in the classroom. But what we’re excited about is the type of young lady that she is.
“We’re very fortunate and glad to have multiple girls like her in our community, but this year she stood out as the deserving winner.”
Dawson, still thinking she had a guidance counselor meeting to discus academics, didn’t realize something was off until she saw her parents and brother through one of the media center’s windows. She then saw a few of the representatives from All Sports Association.
Dawson said she’s excited about the banquet, but admitted to being a little nervous about the three-minute acceptance speech she has to make. She’s also excited for the dinner, which she heard is “insane” from friend and 2016 Female Scholastic Award Winner Emma Rudman.
“I’m definitely going to thank my coaches and my fellow teammates for helping me and supporting me,” Dawson said. “And of course my family. Just a lot of thank yous most likely.”
This season, Dawson and her 200-yard medley relay teammates – Tatum Hackler, Stefanie Markwardt and Peyton Baranowski – won the state title with a time 1:47.17. The relay victory started a day in which Dawson placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:43.56), eighth in the 100-yard freestyle (52.93) and swam the anchor leg of a fourth-place 200-yard freestyle relay finisher.