ELIZABETHTOWN — It’s probably safe to say that Emily Scott hasn’t smiled as much as she did Tuesday morning, and it was perfectly understandable.
Scott, a senior at East Bladen High, was honored as a 2017 U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence finalist. She is one of just 25 high-school students in the country to receive the distinction and is the third Lady Eagle over the past five years to earn the honor — following in the footsteps of Melissa Macon in 2012 and Abby Norris in 2016.
Along with representatives of the U.S. Army and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the entire school — including students, teachers and administration — turned out for the event.
“This reflects positively on our student body and entire staff,” said East Bladen Principal Jason Wray. “We are very proud of Emily’s accomplishments.”
Scott is a top student in her Class of 2017, sporting a GPA of 4.81, and will graduate next week with an associate’s degree from Bladen Community College. She plans to attend East Carolina University in the fall and major in bio-chemistry.
On the athletic side, Scott has played softball for four years, basketball for four years and volleyball for four years. She has been a multi-year all-conference player.
“She’s the best of the best,” said East Bladen Athletics Director Patty Evers, who also coached Scott in basketball and softball. “Carrying a 4.81 GPA in high school, earning a college degree and being so active in the community like she is … unbelievable. She’s just a hard worker with a good heart and very humble.”
In the Eagles Nest to make the presentation to Scott was Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who was a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was drafted in the first round by the Bucs in 1995 after a college career at Florida State and, during his professional career, Brooks was named to the All-Rookie Team and was an 11-time Pro Bowl player.
“This program is very special to me,” Brooks told the crowd. “Today, this partnership (between the U.S. Army and pro Football Hall of Fame) has allowed us to come recognize one of your own.”
Brooks went on to tell a story about how his fifth-grade teacher and father played a big part in getting him on the right path.
“I was the class clown, and my teacher thought enough about me to call my father,” he said. “My dad sat me down and told me he didn’t have time to come to school and take care of this, so I needed to stop.
“Well, I knew he was too busy to actually come to school, so I kept on being the class clown,” Brooks added. “One day, my father showed up — and he belt-whipped by butt to pieces right in front of my classmates. I got the message that day.”
He then turned his attention to Scott.
“There are things that are important to be successful, like commitment and teamwork and sacrifice,” he said. “But the word of the day is TEAM — that’s Trust, Effort, Accountability and Motivation. Emily Scott embodies all of these characteristics and I’m proud to recognize her today.”
Scott was presented with her award along with U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence jacket.
“I’ve strived for excellence all my life,” she said. “I may be up here receiving this award, but there are so many here who share a part of it.”
Scott gave special thanks to her family and coach.
“Thank you to my family, who always taught me what is good and right; they are my backbone,” Scott said. “And thank you Coach Evers for your motivation and friendship.
“This is just incredible,” she added about the ceremony. “I’ve never been the center of attention, and words can’t describe what this means to me — but I know I couldn’t have done it without my family, friends, coaches.”
Scott has earned a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement weekend Aug. 3-5 in Canton, Ohio. She will attend and be recognized during the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. The Award of Excellence will be announced and presented on Aug. 5.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.