Wuerffel Trophy President presented with All Sports Association’s “Highest Honor” for service to youth athletics
If the Col. Byrne Award had a listing in the dictionary, there’s a good chance that you might find a picture of John Watts along with the description, as he fits the characteristics of the award, named for the All Sports Association’s founder, perfectly.
A lifelong resident of Okaloosa County, John has over 20 years of volunteer service, donating his time to the All Sports Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Wuerffel Trophy, Meigs Middle School Athletic Booster Club, Shalimar Little League, YMCA and the City of Fort Walton Beach, to name just a few.
John Watts is one of the most dedicated, Christian, selfless persons that you will ever meet. His impact in youth athletics in this area is immeasurable, as he has coached all 3 of this children through all of the afore mentioned leagues. In each year, he has sponsored the team (financially) and in many cases, purchased equipment for the team and individual equipment for the kids whose parents were unable to do so for them. Also, in more instances than not, he has sponsored the entire league, purchasing uniforms and equipment for the opposing teams, without any recognition or “thank you” desired. It is all behind the scenes.
He coaches the youth of our area with the same way he lives his life. Based upon Christian principals that he does not compromise. Many times his teams win championships, other times they do not. But, his demeanor never changes and the children are better for having been a part of his team.
In 1999, John became a member of the All Sports Association, sponsored by past president Skip Rainer. That same year, he undertook the position of Golf Tournament / Corporate Golf Outing Chairman and rose it to new heights, and he remained the chairman of both until his presidency in 2005-2006. He was quickly elevated to an at large board member, then into the officer ranks, where he served as president in 2006. He is remembered for many things, but his legacy will be the 2 biggest milestones that took birth in his presidency: (1) the formation of the Corporate/Family Fish Fry, led by board member Giro Brigante, which has grown to the event that it is today and (2) the establishment of the Wuerffel Trophy, a renowned college football award that has grown to national status. As is normal with Watts, he takes no credit for these milestones, even though he has given much of his time and resources in order to make them happen and be successful.
After his presidency, John took over as the chair of the FCA Breakfast, handling all of the coordination of students, speakers and keynote speakers. He also privately funded and personally coordinated with one of the past Wuerffel Trophy winners to come to our area the week prior to the banquet in order to minister to high school youth in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties.
In 2013, John followed his heart and took a leap of faith, devoting the majority of his community service time to the Wuerffel Trophy and the formation of the Okaloosa/Walton County Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Because of the time involved, he felt it best that he resign his position in the All Sports Association to make room for a potential new member. In a little over a year, he has led the charge for these organizations by:
- Incorporating Wuerffel Trophy into its own 501c3 Non Profit Corporation and leading these efforts through his personal tax attorney
- Complete revamp of marketing with website overhaul, e-Newsletter implementation, and social media presence
- Assisting in the recruitment of Title Sponsor for the award
- Serving the organization as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
- Organizing the charter board of directors
- Assisting in fundraising in order to hire Area Director
- Ground up development of Website and e-Newsletter
- Organized October “Fields of Faith” event at Northwest Florida State College
- Continues to give financially and anonymously.
Congratulations to a most well deserving recipient of the 2015 Col. Al Byrne Award for service.
Past Col. Al Byrne Award Winners
2014 Brian and Kathy Haugen
2013 Bill Shirah
2012 Rev. James T. Ross
2011 Ralph Duncan
2010 Fred Carley
2009 Bob Lynn
2008 Tom Brassell and Don Pattison
2007 Rube Manasco
2006 Sam Brunson
2005 Paul Martin
2004 James C. “Jimmy” Campbell
2003 Mary Jane Ross
2002 Huburt “Rocky” Bates
2001 Bull Cochran
2000 James Campbell
1999 Bruce Ravan
1998 Charles Morgan, John Shortall
1997 Judge Alfred Ben Gordon, Jr., Kathleen A Ravan
1996 Ralph Frangioni
1995 Al Beedie
1994 Hiram Cook
1993 Leven Lord
1992 Bill Roberts, Jr., Pud Hutcheson, Robert Taylor
1991 Ray Deal, George Palmer
1990 Buddy O’Neal, H.A. Bruner, Jay Farris, Arthur Mikel
1989 Julius Rice, M.L. Hayden
1988 Michael Woodham
1987 Louis Woodham, H.P. Pat Campbell, Bill Preston, Sr., Gene Thomas
1986 Grady Smith
1985 Dr. Eddie Zant
1984 Ron Balicki
1983 O.R. Bailey
1982 Joe Etheridge
1981 Houston Harrison
1980 Jerry Brigante
1979 Rev. Talmadge Smith
1978 Buddy Elliott
1977 Dr. Jerry Hollingsworth
1976 Bettye Campbell
1975 Hal Wyatt
1974 Buck Smith