Henbest honored as Award for Excellence finalist
On Tuesday, Cassville High School senior Drew Henbest was honored as one of 10 national finalists for the U.S. Army -- Pro Football Hall of Fame -- Award for Excellence. NFL Hall of Fame member Marshall Faulk presented Henbest with an honorary plaque.
Brock Richards, Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises program director, thanked the school for hosting the special ceremony. He also recognized coaches Lance Parnell and David Large.
"We are proud to be in partnership with the U.S. Army," said Richards. "The Hall of Fame stands for excellence. Our mission is to recognize excellence. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is honored to acknowledge these student athletes."
According to Richards, the Pro Football Hall of Fame worked with the U.S. Army to establish the prestigious Award for Excellence, which is designed to recognize the top sophomore and junior high school athletes in the nation. Finalist are chosen for demonstrating excellence in academics and values in addition to athletics.
"These students are similar to Army strong soldiers," said Richards. "They excel in athletics, academics and in their communities. This is a great honor for the student, his family, his school and his community."
U.S. Army First Sgt. Jefferson Paul, a Cassville High School alum, also addressed Cassville High School students during the assembly. Paul listed the character traits shared by soldiers and outstanding high school student athletes, which include integrity and loyalty. He also said that recognized students demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills.
"Not just anyone can be a soldier," said Paul, "and not just anyone can be a student athlete."
Faulk briefly addressed the gymnasium full of students before presenting Henbest with the prestigious award.
"Participating in this ceremony is without a doubt a great pleasure for me," said Faulk. "When I think back at high school, I think about some of the decisions you make. You decide if you want to attend college, where you want to attend college and what type of student you are going to be.
"I believe that your preparation, discipline, decisions and dedication are what leads you to achievements in life," said Faulk. "The path I chose gave me the opportunity to play football, but it was the preparation I had to put in with the effort and discipline I had that allowed me to take advantage of the opportunities."
Less than 2 percent of NFL players are invited to be Pro Football Hall of Fame members. Today, there are 273 members.
"Out of 22,000 professional athletes, I get to call myself an NFL Hall of Famer. I will never know if I deserve it, but I appreciate it. There are athletes who I have looked up to my entire life and I get to be in the organization with them."
In introducing Henbest, Richards said that the CHS senior is mentally, emotionally and physically strong, excelling in academics, athletics and in the community through outreach projects at his church, Cassville First Baptist.
"I want to thank the U.S. Army for supporting high school academics and athletics and for recognizing the other students and myself," said Henbest. "I want to thank my dad and mom for supporting me and also the coaches, teachers and student body at Cassville High School."
Henbest also thanked Richards, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Faulk.
"I'm honored, excited and overwhelmed," said Henbest.
All of the Award for Excellence finalists will have the opportunity to attend the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas, in January of 2013. The winner of the Award For Excellence will be announced during the Bowl's formal awards dinner on Jan. 4, 2013.
"We didn't expect this," said Henbest's mother, Janeth. "We thought it was nice for him to be nominated. We are very honored, surprised and overwhelmed."
"This is a great experience for us," said Mike, Henbest's father. "We are very proud of Drew. We are partial, but we feel like he's a good kid."
Henbest plans to pursue a degree in agriculture business. He has not selected a college at this time.
"It was amazing," Henbest said of the numerous standing ovations he received from CHS students and faculty members. "I never imagined that. No words can describe how that made me feel."
Nominees for the Award for Excellence must hold a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a non-weighted scale.
Henbest is the only award finalist from the state of Missouri.