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PC student wins Bryant-Jordan scholar-athlete of year award

Phil Campbell’s Ben Williams was awarded the Larry D. Striplin Jr. Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award by the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Foundation Monday night.

Williams was first named the Class 3A, Region 7 winner, and he was then selected to be the Class 3A winner before receiving the overall statewide honor.

Williams received a total of $10,500 in scholarship awards from the Bryant-Jordan foundation.

The multi-talented athlete will graduate No. 1 in his class of 80 with a 99.87 grade point average on a 100 scale. He was named the Most Outstanding Student in his class each of the past four years.

He finished first in the Franklin County Math Tournament in Algebra I and Geometry and was second in Algebra II/Trigonometry. He is the SGA president, was vice president as a junior and served as class president all four years in high school. He is also the SADD Club and Junior Civitan Club president, as well as president of the school’s rocket team and history club. Williams is also active in his church community.

“Ben is that kid who just does everything the right way,” said Phil Campbell Principal Darit Riddle. “He’s one of those – I can’t tell you the word, but if you ask him a question or tell him to do something, he really takes it in. Anybody who makes a 35 on the ACT, you can tell it’s someone who really observes things and thinks about things.

“He’s probably the smartest kid I’ve ever been around.”

Williams played three sports in high school – football, basketball and golf – but not without enduring some setbacks. As a freshman, he suffered a torn knee ligament. As a sophomore and a junior, he suffered a broken collarbone. He refused to allow the injuries to derail him.

He said athletics and the adversity he endured taught him some valuable lessons along the way.

“I guess it teaches you perseverance,” Williams said. “It’s also a humbling experience. You’re doing pretty good and supposed to be one of the better athletes, and you get injured three times. It kind of puts that on hold, and it’s humbling.”

The scholarship program, named in honor of the late coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama and Ralph “Shug” Jordan of Auburn, recognized 52 regional scholar-athlete winners selected for their excellence in athletics and academics and 52 achievement winners chosen for their ability to overcome major obstacles during their high school careers.

“I’ve always been concerned with academics,” Williams said. “My parents taught me that. That’s always been a thing.”

Each of the 104 regional winners received a $3,000 scholarship; the 14 class winners received an additional $3,500; and each overall state winner received $4,000.

Several other individuals and organizations have joined the Bryant-Jordan Program and present additional scholarships as well. Since the program’s inception, 3,220 senior student-athletes have received approximately $10.8 million in scholarships.