ANDERSON — In such elite company, the first-ever winners of The Herald Bulletin Johnny Wilson Award weren’t expecting to get the honor. On Wednesday afternoon, Anderson High School’s Justin Fuller and Highland High School’s Stormy Holder were selected as the first winners in what is planned to be an annual event.

To be eligible for the award, a student must have participated in three varsity sports in the same year for two years. Each school’s athletic director was asked to submit one qualified male and female athlete as nominees for the honor.

Schools eligible to nominate winners include; Anderson, Highland, Liberty Christian, Alexandria, Frankton, Pendleton Heights, Lapel, Elwood, Daleville, Madison-Grant and Shenandoah.

The Herald Bulletin staff then selected the winners.

HB Sports Editor Adam Wire started the announcement of each candidate by listing the achievements and then finished the suspense by revealing the name.

“As I was listening (to the achievements) I wasn’t showing anything on the outside, but I was cheering on the inside,” Fuller said. “To be honored with an award that carries his (Wilson’s) name and all that he’s accomplished is a great honor.”

Fuller was a fitting choice for the first award because he competed in the same prep sports as Wilson (football, basketball and track) and played for the same school.

Holder wasn’t able to attend the luncheon as she was visiting Goshen College, a school she is considering. But when contacted by phone following the ceremony, she had been surprised at the news. Highland athletic director Neal Rector accepted the award for her.

“When my dad told me he’d gotten a call from Mr. Rector that I’d won, I thought he was kidding me,” said Holder. “I really thought I had no chance. Everyone had such strong credentials and have so much talent. I still can’t believe it.”

The honor is one she takes seriously. “This is definitely one of the best awards I could get,” Holder said. “To be able to get an award that stands for what Mr. Wilson represents is such an honor.”

Competing in three sports in a single school year is far from easy.

“It was tough for me to keep up the academics, especially on road trips when we’d get back late,” said Fuller.

“It is very, very hard,” said Holder. “But I’ve had so much fun and made so many friends that is was worth it.”

Wilson was impressed with the nominees he saw. “They were all very respectful kids to what was happening today,” he said. “I was impressed with the way they dressed. They didn’t have pants hanging down or their hair all messed up.”

He also was glad to be part of such a project.

“To me this is a tremendous honor to have my name on an award like this,” said Wilson. “These kids are doing the right things for the right reasons, and I’m proud to have my name on this award.”

Each of the award winners received a glass trophy and a $500 scholarship. The scholarship money was provided by the Madison County Community Foundation. The plan is for this award to be given annually.

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