Lauderdale County swept the District 5 Lindy Callahan sweepstakes, as Meridian senior John Landon Young was the male recipient of the annual scholarship and West Lauderdale senior Lucy Green was the female recipient of District 5.
The Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete awards are given to 16 seniors across MHSAA member schools — one male and one female from the association’s eight geographical districts. The winners are awarded $1,500 each in college scholarships in honor of former Gulfport High School athletic director Lindy Callahan and are selected based on both their academic accolades and their participation in high school athletics.
For Green, who played soccer at West Lauderdale, the essay portion of her application wasn’t difficult, as she was tasked with writing about what athletics have meant to her.
“It was the easiest essay I ever had to write,” Green said. “Sports have done so much for me, especially soccer. It’s taken me so many places across the country, places I never would’ve gone without playing it, and I’ve met so many amazing people. Some of my best friends are through sports, and I never would have come in contact with them otherwise.”
Young, who played football, soccer and tennis at Meridian, said he was honored to be named among the finalists, especially since there are only eight male winners across numerous applicants.
“That’s pretty cool,” Young said. “I think I’ve definitely had a good mix of sports and academics during my high school career, but I probably wouldn’t have expected to be named one of the top eight guys in the state, so that was a nice surprise.”
Looking back, Young said he doesn’t regret spending so much time playing sports, and that’s not just because it led to scholarship money.
“Sports teaches you how to work hard, and the competition drives you to be better — and at the end of the day, it was all really fun,” Young said. “I’ve had some coaches who have pushed me to be better and teammates I’ve grown to be great friends with. It’s been an all-around good experience.”
Green will continue her soccer career at Ole Miss, and with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing her to stay home for much of the spring semester, she said she’s tried to stay in playing shape as best she can despite not having a normal school routine since before spring break.
“I try to train every day and take a day or two off each week,” Green said. “I’ll go to the field with (West Lauderdale teammate) Alice Williamson to play soccer and get a few touches, and other than that I just try to run a lot. I’ve gotten a (workout) packet from Ole Miss, so I’ve been following that the past few weeks.”
Young plans to attend Mississippi State in August, but he’s currently undecided on a major.
“I think I’ll be undecided for as long as they’ll let me,” Young said. “Most of my family members ended up switching majors three or four times, and I don’t know if I want to do that and get behind.”