The Classic Tournament, Inc., which organizes one of the largest, coed high school holiday basketball tournaments in the nation called the State Farm Holiday Classic, has selected four winners as recipients of the 2019 Holiday Classic Scholarship award. Each winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship to go directly to their college of choice for tuition costs.
Established to recognize and award scholarships to eligible high school seniors who participated in this past year’s tournament, a selection committee of current and former educators chose the winners based on leadership skills and academic performance. Applicants were also asked to demonstrate their experiences in student activities and community service, and required to submit an essay titled “How my high school sports experience helped prepare me for success in higher education.”
The 2019 Holiday Classic Scholarship awards go to (in alphabetical order by last name):
- Jackson Castleman, Stanford Olympia High School – Jackson earned nine varsity letters in five different sports during his high school career. In addition to playing basketball all four years, he also played football, baseball, swimming/diving and track & field. He was a member of the student council, and has been a student leader with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Jackson also participated in choir, chamber choir, band, school musical and the yearbook staff. He plans to attend Augustana College and major in Education.
- Bailey Coffman, Bloomington Central Catholic High School – Bailey collected twelve varsity letters during her Saints career, playing basketball, volleyball and softball. During this span, she was a member of a state champion and state third-place volleyball teams, and a state runner-up basketball team. In addition to numerous all-state and all-conference honors in all three sports, Bailey is a member of the 1,000-point club in basketball. She volunteers for Special Olympics, Food Bank, Stuff the Bus and Adopt-A-Family. Bailey will attend Millikin University this fall and will play both basketball and softball while majoring in Business Administration.
- Nicolette McDonald, Chicago St. Ignatius College Prep – Nicolette was a two-sport student athlete for the Wolfpack, playing both basketball and volleyball. She was named to the all-state academic team in both sports. She is a member of the school’s classics club, creative writing club and book club. Nicolette has volunteered for the local boys & girls club, Home Sweet Home Ministries and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. She plans to attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia and major in Computer Science.
- Benjamin Witzig, Normal Community High School – Benjamin played basketball all four years for the Ironmen. He was named Big 12 Scholar Athlete his junior and senior years, and won the IHSA Scholastic Achievement Award both years as well. He also participated in track & field, student council, I-Club and was named to the National Honor Society. He volunteered his time as a Foundry leader, Superstart leader, summer camp counselor and on the Connections team. Benjamin plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in Civil Engineering.
“Once again we were honored to have a large group of student-athletes apply for this scholarship,” said Holiday Classic Scholarship committee coordinator Jim Fairfield. “Each year is a tough process for our selection committee due to the many outstanding applicants, but these four student-athletes stood above the rest based on their involvement in academics, athletics and their communities.”
The Holiday Classic Scholarship fund is administered through the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation in Bloomington, IL, and scholarship payments are made directly to the attending college/university of the winning students. One winner from each of the four tournament brackets (Small School Boys, Small School Girls, Large School Boys and Large School Girls) is awarded a scholarship each year.
This is the 14th consecutive year the tournament has offered the Holiday Classic Scholarship program which has now awarded a grand total of $58,000 in scholarships.
The 2019 tournament dates are Dec. 26, 27, 28 and 30. For more information about the State Farm Holiday Classic and a complete list of participating teams, visit the official tournament Web site at www.theclassic.org.