Jake Fanning
Jake Fanning
 When Neshoba Central senior Jake Fanning started filling out the application for the Lindy Callahan Scholar-Athlete award earlier in the school year, he didn’t know that much about the program.

“They called me to the counselor’s office and told me I had been chosen to represent the school,” Fanning said. “It was a large application. In addition, it required three letters of reference and a 500-word essay.”

Sponsored by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, and named in honor of the longtime educator and athletic director of Gulfport High School, Lindy Callahan, the program recognizes 16 outstanding high school seniors. High schools from across the state can select a boy and girl for the competition. An eight-person selection committee choses the award winners based on a combination of academic excellence, participation in athletics and contributions to their schools and communities. Each scholar receives a $1,500 college scholarship through the support of the MHSAA’s partners.

Fanning was certainly qualified. When he graduates in May, he will be the Salutatorian of his senior class. He is also a member of the Rockets’ cross-country team and tennis team. He plays mixed doubles. He and his partner, Anna Spears, placed second in the regional tournament and will play in the Class 5A state tournament in May.

“I worked hard on completing the application,” Fanning said. “I got my letters of reference and then I wrote my essay. The topic of the essay was, ‘How athletics and activities have influenced my life.’”

He added, “I really didn’t think I would win when I sent the application in.”

Then a couple of weeks ago, he was called back to the counselor’s office. He was one of 16 scholar-athletes who were invited to an awards program last week in Jackson.

“I asked if anyone from Neshoba Central had ever been chosen for this and they said no, I was the first,” Fanning said. “It was a great feeling and honor. I enjoyed the moment because I have worked so hard these past four years.”

As far as his grades go, Fanning said there is a reason why he makes all A’s. He took five AP courses his junior year. This year, he is taking dual college credit courses in four subjects.

 He works after school at Stribling Drug Store, answering the phone, working the cash register and making deliveries. A native and lifelong resident of Neshoba County, of course he likes to deer hunt and fish.

Next year, he plans to attend Ole Miss. He is leaning toward a major in chemistry for either pre-med or pre-dentistry.

Jake is the son of Brian and Penny Fanning and Laura and Robert Renfrow.