Although the youngest guest speaker ever at the Best of Preps Banquet, University of Tennessee star and soon-to-be NBA draft pick Admiral Schofield exemplifies what it means to be a hard worker.
That also is the case for the Scrappy Moore female and male athletes of the year, East Hamilton's Madison Hayes and Ringgold's Andre Tarver, along with the Scrappy Moore Coach of the Year, Bradley Central's Jason Reuter.
Schofield's entertaining presence and words of wisdom were enjoyed by a packed audience inside the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday night.
"Hard work is what helped me get this far," Schofield said. "When you keep working and working, it becomes second nature. What will take you far and push you to give your best is the discipline you learned, your work ethic, staying true to who you are and believing in yourself."
For Hayes, hard work on and off the basketball court has helped her become one of the nation's most sought-after unsigned class of 2020 recruits and most recently a gold medalist for Team USA basketball.
Also winning the Jackson-Lacy girls' basketball player of the year award at the banquet, the Class AAA Miss Basketball winner was humbled.
"This recognition and honor is amazing," said Hayes, who averaged 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, four steals, 3.6 assists and 3.1 blocks per game as a junior for the Lady Hurricanes. "All the glory goes to God. I am extremely thankful for my family and everyone who has helped me get this far.
"It was really cool to hear Admiral talk and to meet him, especially since I am being recruited by Tennessee right now. It was a fun night."
Less than a week since being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 15th round, one of the toughest outs in high school baseball related to Schofield's background story of learning how to work hard at an early age.
Tarver, a Mississippi State signee, batted .561 with 12 home runs to go with 24 stolen bases this past season. He had an on-base percentage close to .700 and scored 55 runs.
"I had to work on my game and never take my talents for granted and keep working to my full potential," Tarver said. "My parents really shaped me into the man I am, and my coaches helped guide me, too. To be named one of the best players in the entire area is a privilege and an honor."
Hayes and Tarver were also Best of Preps selections in volleyball and football, respectively.
Reuter felt honored by the top coach award but also steered the spotlight away from himself and turned it to those who have helped make the Bearettes the winningest high school basketball program in state history.
Bradley Central went 34-3 and won the Class AAA state crown, which was aided by shutdown defense, a rising star sophomore in Jamaryn Blair and Hannah Lombard's game-winning buzzer beater in the final.
"This is a team award," Reuter said. "My team, my assistant coaches and everyone involved with our Bearette program — this is their award. It's very humbling and is a reflection about the people who have been around me. I am very blessed and will cherish this award forever."
The crowd of over 1,000, many of them Tennessee Volunteers fans, was moved by three special award winners and their video tributes.
Glenn Swafford won the Sandy Sandlin Unselfish Sportsman Award for his work over the past 35 years with baseball players in the city from the ages of 5 to 17.
LaDarius Price won the Guy Francis Going the Extra Mile Award for his gracious help in the basketball community. He has helped fundraise trips for multiple programs and runs free basketball camps.
Soddy-Daisy senior Sierrah Lemons won the Bobby Davis Heart and Desire Award. Despite losing an eye as a child to cancer, she never let it stop her as she was the leader in kills for the volleyball Lady Trojans with 358 last season.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.