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John Maher Builders  awards 4 local student-athletes $2K scholarships

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It’s not the kind of first time that was necessarily wanted, but it was embraced nonetheless. 

For the first time, the scholarship winners for the John Maher Builders Scholar-Athletes were announced live on Facebook recently as four $2,000 scholarships were handed out to local seniors headed off to college amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We normally do this at a banquet every May,” Williamson Herald publisher Derby Jones posted on social media during the announcements. “This year is a year like none other with the COVID-19 situation, so we were forced to not have our annual banquet, which is a highlight of my year to be able to meet all the kids and their parents who were honored.” 

For the 14th year, the newspaper along with John Maher Builders have partnered to recognize 18 student-athletes from throughout Williamson County for their outstanding performance in athletics and their dedicated work in the classroom and in their communities. 

“We’re just excited to be able to continue this tradition and, hopefully, we will be able to get back on track next year,” said Jack Maher of John Maher Builders.

Mikah Charley of Battle Ground Academy and Taylor Qualls of Independence are the two female scholar-athletes to be awarded. Evan Drennan of Brentwood and Carter Speedy of Centennial are the two male scholar-athletes to be awarded.

Qualls, Drennan and Speedy are headed to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, while Charley will continue her track and field career at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. 

“This really put a smile on my face,” said Charley, whose senior track season was canceled because of the pandemic. “I just really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.” 

Despite missing her final season, Charley walked away with three Division II-A championships in the triple jump, 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. She also was a long-jump champion in 2018 and holds DII-A Middle Region records in all four events. 

“The multiple state championship performances were merely the demonstration of her championship character,” BGA coach Robert Jemison said of Charley, who maintained a 3.7 GPA and volunteered at local church groups and sports camps. “The best characteristics of her success were demonstrated through her work ethic and discipline.”

Qualls was a two-time state golf qualifier and finished third in her regional as a senior last fall. 

“She’s a very hard worker and was always positive,” said former coach Jared Grindstaff. “Taylor is very dedicated and driven.”

Qualls, who carried a 4.028 GPA in the classroom and volunteered at Young Life and local community events, said the scholarship and recognition “means so much.” 

“It’s just really cool to be awarded for this,” she said. “I just thank (John Maher Builders) so much. It’s really cool to see what they do and how they give back.” 

Drennan, a standout on the basketball court for the Bruins this past season, said the honor helped make him feel that “all my hard work paid off.” 

“It’s a huge honor,” said Drennan, a 4.4 GPA student and active member in his church. “It’s just a blessing. The things (John Maher Builders) does for the kids is so extra and it makes it more fun.” 

Speedy, another local basketball player who helped lead Centennial, said working hard in the classroom is just as important as working hard athletically. 

“I was involved in the National Honor Society, student council and just consistently worked hard in class,” said Speedy, who had a 4.56 GPA. “I want to thank John Maher Builders. It was a great honor to be recognized.” 

Maher, who like his siblings was a student-athlete, said his parents, John and Margie, instilled a well-rounded work ethic in their kids. The scholarships and annual recognition are a way for the local business to highlight similar traits in local youth, while helping them with a boost financially. 

“This is a way to honor those kids and give them a little scholarship for some of the hard work over the years,” he said. “Congratulations to all the winners.”

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