U.S. Army and Pro Football Hall of Fame honor student-athlete for excellence

Photo by Nayeli Lara
As one of 20 finalists of the U.S. Army Award for Excellence, junior Tai Bibbs (center) was honored at the school's spring assembly. He will be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement festivities where the winner will be announced.

A standing ovation welcomed junior Tai Bibbs at the spring assembly where he was honored as a finalist for the U.S. Army Award for Excellence Thursday.

The award is in its fourth year and chooses 20 student-athlete finalists that show “great athletic achievement, excellence in academics and community engagement,” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a partner in the award.

Bibbs was nominated by physical development division head Bill Lech for his achievements. Bibbs helped lead the boys basketball team to its first conference championship in school history and was named the Male Athlete of the Winter Season.

“I was really honored that everyone gave me a standing ovation, it was awesome, a very humbling moment,” Bibbs said.

Along with the partnership with the Army, the Pro Football Hall of Fame sent Hall of Fame inductee Derrick Brooks to present Bibbs with the award, which included a plaque and a custom jacket from the U.S. Army.

Brooks played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a first round draft pick in 1995. He retired in 2008 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

To Brooks, the U.S. Army and the Pro Football Hall of Fame make a good partnership while the qualities of being in the Army are similar to being an athlete.

“There are so many values with being on a team sport. Accountability, mental effort, working together, resolving conflicts together, and I think all of those things are an integral part, no matter if they play a professional sport or not, it becomes a fiber of you as a human being,” Brooks said.

Playing basketball, participating in track freshman and sophomore year, and being named to the honor roll every year, Bibbs has much experience being an involved student-athlete.

“As young student athletes, they set a foundation and their mindset determines the future of where we go with sports,” Brooks said.

Also present at the assembly were members of Bibbs’ family.

“Everything he gets, he deserves. He’s a humble kid, he works his butt off in everything he does. I don’t want to take any credit for it, we instill things in him, and he sees the fruition of all his labors,” Chris Bibbs, Tai’s father, said.

To those around him, Bibbs’ character is just as well developed as his skills on the court.

“He’s a fine young man, obviously his athletic achievements are well documented, but he seems like a very solid young man and I’m excited for what the future holds for him,” Brooks said.  

Bibbs’ plans for the future involve playing basketball in college, as of now having various Division 1 school offers, and studying to be a athletic trainer.

“I’m not done, so I’ll keep working,” Bibbs said.

All finalists will be honored and the winner of the award will be announced during Enshrinement Weekend at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in August.

Video by Nayeli Lara