Phil Campbell High School’s Ben Williams, Pleasant Valley High School’s Kamryn Sparks and Elmore County High School’s Hayden Holton were selected the overall state winners at the 35th annual Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Awards Program on Monday night.
The banquet was televised over the AHSAA TV Network flagship station WOTM TV and webcast over the NFHS Network. A total of 104 high school regional senior honorees were recognized and awarded more than $380,000 in scholarships.
Williams, a three-sport standout at Phil Campbell, located in Franklin County, was the recipient of the Larry D. Striplin, Jr. Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. For the second year in a row and just the third time in Bryant-Jordan Program history, Sparks and Holton were named co-winners of the Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Student Achievement Athlete of the Year Award.
The scholarship program, named in honor of the late coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama and Ralph “Shug” Jordan of Auburn, recognized 52 regional scholar-athlete winners selected for their excellence in athletics and academics and 52 achievement winners chosen for their ability to overcome major obstacles during their high school careers.
Each of the 104 regional winners received a $3,000 scholarship; the 14 Class Winners received an additional $3,500; and for each overall state winner, the additional stipend received was $4,000. In total, the 104 Bryant-Jordan Regional Winners collectively received $325,000 overall from the Bryant-Jordan Foundation.
In addition, several other individuals and organizations have also joined the Bryant-Jordan Program and present additional scholarships as well. Since the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s inception, 3,220 senior student-athletes have received approximately $10.8 million in scholarships.
Williams became the first Class 3A scholar-athlete to receive the Larry D. Striplin, Jr., Scholar-Athlete of the Year award since Piedmont’s Chase Childers and Aliceville’s Harriet Washington won in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011.
A multi-talented athlete, he will graduate No. 1 in his class of 80 with a 99.87 grade-point average on a 100 scale. Williams played three sports in high school, football, basketball and golf, but not without enduring some setbacks. As a freshman, he suffered a torn knee ligament. As a sophomore and a junior, he suffered a broken collarbone. He refused to allow the injuries to derail him.
Sparks, who played basketball, softball and volleyball at Pleasant Valley, earned All-County (9-12), All-Conference (10-12) and All-Area (10-12) as a defensive standout on the Raiders’ volleyball team. She was named captain as a senior, earned the Stay After and Most Digs awards and was named Defensive Player of the Year. She also was active as a SGA ambassador, was a volunteer for the LiveLike 14 Camp and Christmas drive and worked with the Palmer Home for Disadvantaged Children tutoring in its extended day program.
Struggling through her early years in an extremely dysfunctional and abusive home environment, she and her younger brother were eventually adopted and moved to Pleasant Valley where she blossomed into a strong leader. She tried out for sports and immediately showed an ability to lead and flourished in the team setting.
Holton, an outstanding four-sport student-athlete who will graduate from Elmore County High School with a 3.06 grade-point average, played baseball through the 11th grade, soccer as a senior, and played basketball and football all through high school. He served as captain of the basketball and football teams as a senior – earning All-County and All-Region at tight end.
RELATED: Read more about Holton’s inspiring story
On Sept. 11, 2016, he saw his life turn upside down when both parents were killed, and a family member was arrested soon after the incident. The charges were dropped two years later.
The complete list of regional winners honored Monday night were:
2020 Overall Bryant-Jordan Winners
Larry Striplin Scholar-Athlete of the Year Recipient
Ben Williams, Phil Campbell High School
Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship Student-Achievement Award Recipient
Karmyn Sparks, Pleasant Valley High School
Hayden Holton, Elmore County High School
BRYANT-JORDAN SCHOLAR-ATHLETE CLASS WINNERS
Class 1A: Alli Temple, Phillips High School
Class 2A: Derek Warren II, Samson High School
Class 3A: Ben Williams, Phil Campbell High School
Class 4A: Josiah Green, Cherokee County High School
Class 5A: Joseph Perrella, Beauregard High School
Class 6A: Isaac Stubbs, Wetumpka High School
Class 7A: Ashley Sinclair-Curtis, Enterprise High School
BRYANT-JORDAN STUDENT-ACHIEVEMENT CLASS WINNERS
Class 1A: Leighanne Sanders, Elba High School
Class 2A: Journey Sutton, Hatton High School
Class 3A: Karmyn Sparks, Pleasant Valley High School
Class 4A: Hayden Holton, Elmore County High School
Class 5A: Kennedy Cobb, Hamilton High School
Class 6A: Haylee Hunter, Benjamin Russell High School
Class 7A: Cooper Tullo, Hoover High School
2020 Bryant-Jordan Special Scholarships
Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Coaching Scholarship
Aaron Salter, Oak Grove High School
Dr. Gaylon McCollough Medical Scholarships
Lillie Yazdi, Daphne High School
Cage Cochran, Fyffe High School
Alabama “A” Club Educational & Charitable Foundation Scholarships
Jordan Tidwell, Brooks High School (Achievement category)
Fallon Haley, Muscle Shoals High School (Scholar-Athlete category)
Auburn Football Lettermen Club Scholarships:
Jake Robinson, Smiths Station High School (Achievement category)
Ashley-Sinclair Curtis, Enterprise High School (Scholar-Athlete category)
United Methodist Children’s Home Scholarships
Karmyn Sparks, Pleasant Valley High School
Juan Sheffield, Cullman High School