Even though no tournament was held in 2020 for the first time in 30 years, the State Farm Holiday Classic has selected four winners as recipients of the 2021 Holiday Classic Scholarship award. The Classic Tournament, Inc., which organizes one of the largest, coed high school holiday basketball tournaments in the nation, will award each winner 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 (would have) participated in the previous 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 2021 Holiday Classic Scholarship awards go to (in alphabetical order by last name):
- Samuel Antonacci, Sacred Heart Griffin High School – Samuel played both baseball and basketball all four years for the Cyclones. He was a member of the National Honor Society, volunteered time at vacation summer school, and tutored kindergarten students in reading and math. He worked for a flooring company and currently gives hitting lessons to younger student-athletes. Samuel will attend Heartland Community College in Normal this fall and plans to major in Exercise Science.
- Abigail Barickman, Geneseo High School – Abigail was a three sport student-athlete for the Maple Leafs, playing basketball, volleyball and track & field. She was a member of the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She volunteered her time as a student mentor for a local elementary school and as a volunteer middle-school volleyball coach. Abigail will attend North Central College in Naperville this fall and major in either Actuarial Science or Engineering.
- Rylin Duster, East Dubuque High School – Rylin ranked first in her class and was a three sport athlete for the Warriors, playing basketball, softball and volleyball. She was a member of the National Honor Society. She volunteered for local blood drives and the Special Olympics. She worked as a CNA at several locations and also worked at a child care center. Rylin will attend Northeast Iowa Community College in the fall and major in nursing.
- Michael McCann, Wheaton Warrenville South High School – Michael was a two sport athlete for the Tigers, participating in basketball and lacrosse. He was a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club where he volunteered more than 40 hours a year. In addition, he volunteered at a community based organization stocking shelves and distributing food and clothing. He was a concessions worker at the local park district and provided childcare to multiple families. Michael will attend Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in the fall to major in business.
“We were disappointed in not hosting a tournament this past year, but we still felt it was important to recognize these student-athletes who would have participated,” 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 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.
This is the 16th consecutive year the tournament has offered the Holiday Classic Scholarship program which has now awarded a grand total of $73,000 in scholarships.
The 2021 State Farm Holiday Classic is scheduled for Dec. 27, 28, 29 and 30. For more information about the tournament and a complete list of participating teams, visit the official web site at www.theclassic.org.