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 six winners as recipients of the 2020 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 2020 Holiday Classic Scholarship awards go to (in alphabetical order by last name):
- Benjamin Bastian, Wheaton Warrenville South High School – Benjamin played basketball all four years for the Tigers, while also working many youth sport camps and tournaments at Wheaton Warrenville South. He volunteered his time assisting special needs classes at Wheaton Bible Church. He worked for Fox Chase Landscaping during the summer, supporting landscaping needs for commercial and residential clients. Benjamin will attend the University of Missouri this fall and major in business.
- Keeli Frerichs, Geneseo High School – Keeli was a three sport athlete for the Maple Leafs, playing basketball, volleyball and soccer all four years. She was named Underclassmen Female Athlete of the Year, and was a member of the Link Crew and Fellowship for Christian Athletes. She volunteered her time for local sports tournaments, collecting food for local food pantries and babysat about 35 hours a week during the summer. Keeli plans to attend St. Ambrose University and major in Physical Therapy.
- Nicholas Liagridonis, Mahomet-Seymour High School – Nicholas ranked 23rd in his class and was a three sport athlete for the Bulldogs, playing basketball, football and baseball. He was a member of the Math Team, the Freshmen Mentor Program, the Principal’s Advisory Council and Student Council. He spearheaded the creation of a Letter in Community Service Program, and managed operations for Grovestone at the Urbana Farmers Market. Nicholas plans to the University of Chicago this fall and major in neuroscience.
- Lindsey Sapetti, Rochester High School – Lindsey ranked 5th in her class and played both basketball and volleyball for the Rockets. She was named academic all-conference three times, and was a member of the Spanish Club the National Honor Society. She volunteered her time with the Festival of Trees, the Rochester Town Festival, AbeFest in Downtown Springfield and spends time babysitting. Lindsey plans to attend Illinois Wesleyan University this fall and major in biology.
- Joshua Sims, Annawan High School – Joshua ranked 3rd in his class and was a four sport athlete for the Braves, participating in basketball, baseball, golf and bass fishing. While at Annawan he was involved in FFA, Spanish Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was class president for three years. He volunteered his time with Siempre Amigos Community Building, Hammond Henry Hospital, Kiwanis Club and the Annawan Community Center. Joshua plans to attend Illinois Wesleyan University this fall and major in neuroscience.
- Ja’Sion Woods, North Chicago High School – Ja’Sion ranked 3rd in his class and was a two-sport athlete for the Warhawks, competing in both basketball and cross-country all four years. He was a member of the National Honor Society and the Mentor Program at North Chicago. He plans to sit for the AP chemistry exam, AP Literature & Composition exam and the AP Government exam. He has worked for the Scholar Program and Clowning Around Entertainment. Ja’Sion plans to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA and major in Economics.
“This year we expanded our scholarship program to honor and recognize six winners,” said Holiday Classic Scholarship committee coordinator Jim Fairfield. “Once again we were honored to have a large group of student-athletes apply for this scholarship, and these six 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.
This is the 15th consecutive year the tournament has offered the Holiday Classic Scholarship program which has now awarded a grand total of $67,000 in scholarships.
The 2020 tournament has been canceled due to COVID-19. The 2021 tournament dates are Dec. 27, 28, 29 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.