Calhoun Academy senior Bates Felder, Jr. was surprised to find out during his graduating class ceremony on Saturday, May 23 that he had won the prestigious Bill Simpson Award from the South Carolina Independent School Association.
"I was just speechless, honored and thankful," Felder recalls of winning the award, having been nominated by his coaches and school headmaster. "I'm thankful, overall, that I had such a great support system around me. I've had great coaches and great teammates.
"Having always looked up to the CA athletes who came before me, I'm glad to be mentioned in the conversation along with them."
Felder was informed that he is the first Calhoun Academy student-athlete to win the award, which is the highest honor presented to an individual student-athlete by The South Carolina Independent School Association.
The award — which includes a plaque and a college scholarship — is named in memory of Bill Simpson, who served SCISA in the late 1970s and early 1980s and did much to shape the athletic structure of the association.
The Bill Simpson Award is presented annually to one graduating male and one graduating female student-athlete. Criteria for selection include: proven record of academic achievement, athletic success while lettering in at least two varsity sports, community service and student leadership.
“Bates Felder personified every aspect that the Bill Simpson Award stands for in student achievement, student service, and student leadership,” said Mike Fanning, SCISA athletic director.
Felder was the valedictorian of the Class of 2020 at Calhoun Academy in St. Matthews. He lettered in and was the captain of the Cavaliers' varsity football, basketball, and baseball teams.
He was elected as the student body president. He was a Palmetto Boys State representative who also served on the school yearbook staff and participated on the debate team.
"The hardest part was that we had great runs in football and basketball, but we only got to a few games in for baseball, and they were pretty special to me," Felder said, referencing the spring shutdown of all high school sports, due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Baseball is what I really miss the most; it's always been my favorite.
"But, it was a great senior year, making playoffs for the first time in about four years in both football and basketball. We had a real shot at a baseball championship, but it has been a weird year under weird circumstances."
He averaged 8 points, 4 assists and 3 steals per game in basketball during his senior season for CA, and was batting for a .562 average through the 4 games the Cavaliers played in baseball, having hit for a .414 average as a junior.
Felder plans to attend the University of South Carolina this fall, majoring in biology as he pursues a career in the medical field. He in interested in playing intramural sports while in Columbia, if his class schedule allows.
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