East St. John student named Army All-American
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2006
BY KERI CHAMPION
RESERVE- At least one student in St. John Parish is seeing his dreams come to fruition this year when a national honor was bestowed upon him.
Stefoin Francois is a free safety for East St. John High School and he is one of only 80 players to be named to be an Army All-American. He will be playing for the West team at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He is the only player in Louisiana this year to be so honored. This is the second time ESJH has had the honor to be the home of an All-American Bowl participant.
The Bowl, which recruits top high school cheerleaders, dancers, band members and football players to appear and participate, will be played on January 6, 2007.
Francois said he is honored to be playing in the All-American Bowl.
“It has been a long-term goal of mine to get into the All American Bowl. I have worked very hard to accomplish this achievement.”
He joins the likes of Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints and Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans as high school athletes asked to play in the bowl game.
“I have tried my best to stay positive when times got tough and to help other people stay positive by encouraging them to work hard to achieve their best. You have to work hard to be the best you can be, that’s what I tell them,” Francois said.
“Everything happened all at once, I never expected to have this happen, but now I am kind of excited to be getting the attention and opportunity to play in the bowl,” he said.
Francois says his parents and uncle have been role models for his success with their support of him and have given him the drive to succeed.
“My teammates have also been a big part of it because they are there to make the blocks when they need to be so that I could do my part too,” he said.
The one game that stands out for him was against West St. John when he had to dash across the field to catch a running back and was able to bring him down near the 20-yard line on a third and 10.
“If I had not tackled him it could have turned the tide of the game and we might have lost, the safety is the last line of defense and I was able to prevent him from scoring,” Francois said.
Nominees are evaluated by their on-field performance, athlete honors, academics, leadership and community involvement. The nominees also must show that they possess characteristics valued by the U.S. Army. Members of the U.S. Army were on hand to talk about what those characteristics are.
Loyalty, respect, duty, selfless service, personal courage, integrity and honor were the key themes in the presentation made by soldiers of the Apache 389th Cavalry 4th Brigade of Fort Polk.
Army All-Americans are selected by a committee process with help from recruiters on local levels. The committee reviews hundreds of evaluations every year submitted by all American panels to honor the most outstanding high school student athletes.
“The Army athlete recognition program is not just about the student honored, it is about being a team and leading them to work together to ensure their success as a whole, it honors the school, the team, the students and the community,” said Tresa Hess, community relations officer at Fort Polk.
The members of the Fort Polk 389th spoke about the call to duty as a soldier. They spoke on the feeling they get knowing that they are helping to keep America free.
“It’s a sense of accomplishment knowing that I am a part of something bigger,” said one.
“You have a duty to fulfill your obligations in life, no matter what you do,“ said another.
Soldiers also said the integrity to do what is morally and legally right and to show respect to others is also important in the Army or to be chosen as an all-american.
“If we can ensure the success of one student by honoring them or their classmate and they take to heart at least one of values of the army then we have done what we set out to do,” Hess said.