BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
“There’s nobody else I would rather present this award to than Jaden,” said Greenville High School (GHS) head football coach Josh McLendon just before Jaden Hester was presented with the Mark Debellis Award and $3,500 in scholarship money.
McLendon added, “He’s been a great kid and a great kid to coach. He’s somebody that always worked hard from day one. He wasn’t always the biggest guy but made up for it with heart and determination.”
The award is voted on by teachers, teammates, and coaching staff. It is a character award said McLendon and given to a person of trust, dependability, and that works hard.
Hester stated upon acceptance of his award, “I want to thank God for getting me through all my trials and hard times too.
“I want to thank my family first of all. They mean the world to me. I love them to death and thank them for supporting me.
“I want to thank my coaches for pushing me to be the person that I am and turning me into a man.”
Hester plans to attend Huntingdon College in Montgomery and play football while studying for a major in Exercise Science and then pursue a career in physical therapy.
The people who have influenced him the most are God; his grandparents, James and Martha Hester and Willie and Emma Taylor; and parents, Tim Hester and Pepper Jenkins.
“They taught me to how to handle situations. They taught me to put God first. They’ve always been there and support me in whatever I do,” said Hester.
Mark DeBellis was on hand to make the award to Hester. He was a former GHS varsity football player in 1984.
DeBellis explained Jaden was the 13th recipient of the award which has been an annual tradition at GHS for the same number of years.
The recipient will have to give back $1,000 to either the football team, teacher, or club or organization of their choosing.
The award initially gave $2,500 each year but DeBellis with the help of McLendon raised the amount to $3,500 for 2020.
I set this up as a pay it forward mentoring program. I want them to feel what it’s like to be in my shoes, so one day it will click and you’ll go ‘man, I remember that feeling of giving back,’” said DeBellis.