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Sophia McCartney of St. John Neumann wins Winged Foot Scholarship

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In a field full of qualified applicants vying for a $10,000 scholarship, only one could emerge as a recipient.

Sophia McCartney, who collected 11 varsity letters in her three seasons at St. John Neumann, became the third Celtic to win the award Friday night at the Naples Grande Beach Resort.

It came as a bit of a surprise to McCartney, who did not come up with any prepared remarks.

“I had a speech prepared in my head of who I wanted to thank,” said a delighted McCartney. ‘But when they called my name, it disappeared from my mind. I tried to remember what I wanted to say.

“I immediately started shaking. It’s that weird feeling that goes through your body, you go numb. When I got into this, I was grateful to be nominated. Looking at everyone’s resumes, all these kids, they all have so worked hard to get here. It was really cool to be there with them and see all the other kids at different schools and see what they have achieved, with different goals or the same goals as me.

McCartney was a force on the basketball court during her time with the Celtics, helping them to a 24-4 record in her senior season. McCartney, signed with Army, averaged 17.3 points and 14.6 rebounds per game, adding 2.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game on a Neumann team that finished 24-4 with a regional final appearance.

“Very proud of Sophia, and very happy for the school,” Neumann girls basketball coach John Wholihan said. “It’s well deserved. She worked hard. Her GPA is great. She had 1,500 points and 1,200 rebounds and a 4.3 GPA. I don’t know how you can beat that.”

Off the field, McCartney is a member of the National Honor Society, secretary of the NHS and a volunteer at the VA Clinic. She will study psychology at West Point and is eager to make an impression on the basketball court.

McCartney expects to use the scholarship money for the things needed to be successful at West Point, as there are many appointments where a good portion of the money is expected to go.

“This is really going to help because you’re going to the Academy, but there are so many doctor’s appointments and exams to go through… I have to buy so much stuff. My goal was to play college basketball, so my parents didn’t have to pay for anything. .This is really going to help me get the stuff I need for West Point.”

All 15 applicants from Collier County high schools were interviewed in April by the Winged Foot selection committee, which then chose a winner. Each candidate had to go through an extensive application process to be considered by their respective schools. Each school then determined its representative.

The Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Foundation donated $5,000 to each of the finalists. McCartney will receive a scholarship of $10,000 – $2,500 per year for four years. The other finalists receive a one-time stipend.

This year’s other Winged Foot finalists were, in alphabetical order:

Isabella Adams, village school

Darian Alvarez-Garcia, Aubrey Rogers

Johnny Charles, Golden Gate

Kali Cleary, Gulf Coast

Katherine Collins, Everglades City

Collette Combs, Marco Island Academy

Kaden Darwin, Palmetto Ridge

Michael Distel, Lely

Avery Erickson, First Baptist

Nikki Ferrante, Community School

Brooke Spurgeon, Seacrest Country Day

Genesis Turrubiartez, Immokalee

Rebecca Van’t Hoff, Barron Collier

Luke Walker, Naples

Former college football coach and current ESPN analyst Dan Mullen was the keynote speaker and spoke about the never-ending drive to be successful in life, along with charting an authentic path as the audience ages and matures.

Mullen talked about his firsthand experiences attending Ursinus College in Pennsylvania as a player and working his way up the coaching ranks at Wagner, Columbia, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and then Mississippi State, where he earned his first head coaching position. job before returning to Gainesville in 2018.

“This is such an exciting time in your life,” Mullen said. “It is the drive to keep doing more, to keep taking the next step. That is what you will all do when, with the help of a scholarship, you go to the next level in the next phase of your life. Because all young people taking the next step, I hope you’ve learned a lot from your coaches. I hope you’ve learned a lot from your teachers. I hope you continue to do that and learn from people who are impacting you along the way… Make sure you listen to people. You let people influence you and help you along the way as you grow and lay the foundation for who you are going to become.

“Be influenced, but don’t imitate. You have to be yourself. If you want to be successful in this world, it will have to be because you are yourself. Not because you imitate someone. Otherwise I can’t imitate a great coach. You learn the lessons and be influenced by them, but do not imitate.”

Follow sports reporter Alex Martin on X: @NP_AlexMartin. Follow this for the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida @nieuwspresssports And @ndnprepzone on Instagram.