Melancon nets first Winged Foot Award for First Baptist Academy

As a junior and senior, Malaya Melancon guided the First Baptist Academy girls soccer team to back-to-back regional playoff appearances. GREGG HARDY/CSI

BY CLAY W. CONE
CONE COMMUNICATIONS

The Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Foundation announced the selection of First Baptist Academy senior Malaya Melancon as the recipient of the 31st annual Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award. 

Melancon, who has signed to play soccer at Florida Gulf Coast University, became the first Winged Foot winner in FBA history.

The Winged Foot selection committee made its decision virtually since the annual awards banquet — originally scheduled for May 21 — was cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic. This year’s keynote speaker, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, has agreed to return for next year.

The award was presented to Melancon at a small ceremony.

“Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020, with special recognition to the Winged Foot Scholarship Foundation finalists,” Bilas said in a prepared statement. “This honor is reflective of your great character, leadership and accomplishment in athletics and academics. As excited as we are to celebrate your success, we are even more excited and inspired to celebrate all that you will accomplish in your very bright futures.”

The Winged Foot Scholar Athlete Award began in 1990 at the Collier Athletic Club as a vision to recognize the top senior scholar athlete from each of the high schools in Collier County. The first award was presented to Terry Dean of Barron Collier High School at a banquet featuring sportscaster Dick Vitale. The Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award has become the most prestigious award a high school student can receive in Collier County.

In addition to Melancon, the list of Winged Foot award finalists included Araceli Anzualda (Immokalee High School), Jay Beshears (Community School of Naples), Lauren Faremouth (Marco Island Academy), Christian Garcia (Palmetto Ridge High School), Isabella Garcia (Seacrest Country Day School), Brady Gibson (Naples High School), Samantha Hussey (St. John Neumann High School), Andy Martinez (Golden Gate High School), Justin Mattia (Gulf Coast High School), Victoria Novotny (Lely High School) and Drew Powell (Barron Collier High School).

Each of the county’s public and private high schools nominates its best senior scholar-athlete. Finalists receive a $5,000 scholarship. The winner, selected by a panel of Winged Foot Committee members and local citizens, earns a stunning trophy and $10,000 scholarship.

Major sponsors of the Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award include Barron Collier Jr. Foundation, The Lutgert Companies, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Gallagher Lutgert Insurance, Grant Fridkin Pearson P.A., IBERIABANK and Dr. Charles Karpas.

Planning already is underway for next year’s Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Awards banquet to be held on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The event typically begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner and awards presentation to follow around 7. 

Tickets will go on sale in the spring of 2021 for $275 per person. A number of sponsorship opportunities will also be available. All proceeds from the banquet go toward the scholarship program. To learn how you can support the program, call 239-262-7171.