FHSAA Announces Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts and Spirit of Sport Award Winners

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association announced Thursday the winners of the inaugural Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts Award and Roger Dearing Spirit of Sport Award. Mary Waldrop (Pedro Menendez) took home the Heart of the Arts honor, with Payton Titus (Paxon School for Advanced Studies) earned the Spirit of Sport accolade.

Both nominees modeled quality sportsmanship, surpassed standard expectations, and have overcome various obstacles. Mrs. Waldrop’s Art program will be awarded with a $1,500 donation from the FHSAA. Ms. Titus will receive a $1,500 scholarship in her name on behalf of the FHSAA.

Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts Award

Mary Waldrop, Pedro Menendez High School – Mrs. Waldrop is currently a teacher at Pedro Menendez High School, where she teaches high school Art, co-sponsors the Athletic Leadership Council, co-sponsors Senior Women, and is the co-sponsor for the sophomore class. In her efforts to relieve the St. Augustine community from the heartbreaking effects from Hurricane Irma, she drew a portrait watercolor drawing of the St. Augustine skyline with other memorable local landmarks added. She sold both the watercolor portraits as well as printed the same drawing on t-shirts, for relief efforts. Her charitable contribution raised over $3,000 for Hurricane Irma victims. This was not the first time Mrs. Waldrop has done such a selfless act towards her community. The year before, Hurricane Matthew hit the small seaside town and she contributed $12,000 in relief funds with her artistic skills. She is the definition of a servant leader with a compassionate heart.

Roger Dearing Spirit of Sport Award

Payton Titus, Paxon School for Advanced Studies – Payton is a scholar inside and outside of the classroom. She was an avid swimmer year-round, until 2017. Following the Florida High School Swimming and Diving State Championships, she felt swelling and pain near her collarbone. After multiple visits to the doctors, they determined that she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She went through four cycles of chemotherapy. Over a span of year, she was diagnosed with cancer, went through treatment, and is now in remission and back in the pool after having to step away for seven months. In her comeback, she has become the Paxon Eagles Team Captain and a great mentor for her peers. Titus is a great example of an athlete who shows citizenship in her sport, has exceeded normal expectations, and has overcome extreme adversity.

About the Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts Award

The FHSAA has developed the “Roger Dearing Heart of the Art Awards,” to honor individual(s) who embody “Heart of the Arts.” The award covers an excess of performing arts disciplines and seeks to recognize those individuals who illustrate a positive heart of the arts and represent the core mission of education-based activities. The award may be given in recognition of specific act or for an activity of longer duration. The winner of the Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts Award will be submitted to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (NFHS) as the FHSAA’s nomination for the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award.

About the Roger Dearing Spirit of Sport Award

The FHSAA has developed the “Roger Dearing Spirit of Sport Awards,” to seek those individual(s) who showcase the ideals of the positive spirit of sport and represent the core mission of education-based athletics. The individual or group should demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship, exceed normal expectations, and has overcome adversity or a challenging circumstance. The award may be given in recognition of specific act or for an activity of longer duration. . The winner of the Roger Dearing Heart of the Arts Award will be submitted to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (NFHS) as the FHSAA’s nomination for the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award.

About the FHSAA

The Florida High School Athletic Association supervises and regulates interscholastic athletic programs for high school students at member public, private and charter schools. The organization also recognizes and honors academic achievement among student-athletes at almost 800 middle, junior and senior high schools statewide. Headquartered in Gainesville, it is the official governing body for interscholastic athletics in Florida.