Hartin, Skipper receive Achiever award

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2005

It was a bittersweet night for one Achiever Award winner and just icing on the cake to cap an incredible week for the other.

Georgiana's Caleb Hartin and Fort Dale Academy's Laura Skipper were named the 2005 Achiever Award winners Thursday night at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center.

While the award recognizes excellence on the athletic field in addition to academics and citizenship, Hartin said he could only think about his school's late principal Roland Pettie.

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"This is such a great honor. I just wish Mr. Pettie were here to enjoy it with me," Hartin said. "When I was standing on stage tonight, I was thinking about what he told me before the interviews. He said that if someone from Georgiana didn't win it this year that he was going to get up and turn all the tables over."

Pettie, who was principal at Georgiana High School since 1997, died April 15.

Skipper's award comes just two days after she led Fort Dale Academy's girls tennis team to its first Alabama Independent School Association team state title since 2001. Skipper also won the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles titles on Tuesday.

With Tuesday's title in hand, this marks three state tennis championships Skipper was apart of in her athletic career at Fort Dale.

"This is pretty awesome," Skipper said. "I don't think I really realized what all I have accomplished (athletically) until this week. This is really big."

The Achiever Award also has been a family tradition for the Skipper family. Laura's older brother Nathan was an award nominee, while her middle brother Patrick won it in 2001.

Having family members who had interviewed and won the award served as an advantage Skipper said.

"I talked to Patrick the other day and one of the judges interviewed him," she said. "After I talked with Patrick, I pretty well knew what they would ask during the interviews."

In addition being apart of three tennis championships at Fort Dale, Skipper also was on the 2004 state championship basketball team.

Skipper will attend Auburn University in the fall to major in pre-medicine.

Hartin was considering joining Skipper at Auburn, but he decided to forgo the Plains so he could play football at the collegiate level.

Hartin will attend Huntingdon College and play on the varsity football team this fall.

"It was a tough decision, but I want to keep playing football because I love it," he said. "And coming from a small school and attending a school with that small-school atmosphere made me feel more comfortable."

Hartin lettered in football and basketball for four years and three years in baseball.

Virgil Starks, senior associate athletic director and assistant provost at Auburn University, was the keynote speaker for the night.

He warned the student-athletes of the three hardest jobs they will soon face ahead.

"The first is to be a good parent," Starks said. "…The second is to a be a good spouse and the third is to be a good student.

"You will know when you have achieved the last is when you get your first paycheck from the job you have always wanted."