INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The late Dylan Rebeor of Columbia, Tennessee and the Columbia (Tennessee) Central High School football team have been selected as the 2011 Section 3 recipients of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
Rebeor and the Columbia Central High School football team were one of eight section winners selected by the National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee. Softball umpire Bill Dithrich and the New Kensington (Pennsylvania) Valley High School softball team were subsequently selected as the national recipients of the award.
More than anything, 16-year-old Dylan Rebeor wanted his Columbia Central High School football teammates to win a state championship.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound junior, who was diagnosed with colon cancer eight months earlier, almost lived long enough to see that happen.
Tragically, Rebeor died the early hours of December, 3, 2010 – the very morning the team played Henderson High School for the 2010 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) BlueCross Bowl Division 1 Class 5A state championship.
Rebeor got his wish as the Lions prevailed, 28-7, to claim the first state football championship in the history of the school.
It was announced at a morning team meeting that Rebeor had passed away at 3:15 a.m. Before he passed away, Rebeor told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that his last wish was to have his team receive new pads and helmets.
Rebeor’s fight to stay alive served as an inspiration for the Lions throughout the 2010 season as they compiled an 8-2 regular-season record and then ran the table en route to the state championship. Due to his weakened condition, teammates would often carry Rebeor onto the field for the pregame coin toss, or to the sidelines.
During the championship game, the Columbia Central players had Rebeor’s No. 25 painted on their faces, while fans donned shirts bearing his number.
At halftime, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress presented a framed personalized championship poster created in Rebeor’s name to his mother Heather, step-father T.J. Brown, father David Rebeor and sister Kelsey.
Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.
While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Philadelphia, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.