The Thomas Fehmel Memorial Scholarship is normally presented in an auditorium in front of a large number of people. But these aren’t normal times.
So, it was a more intimate setting for the presentation to this year’s Shoreham-Wading River High School recipient: Chris Anderson’s family home.
Because of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Anderson, a senior wrestler with four varsity seasons under his belt, was presented with the $1,000 scholarship last week, surrounded by family members. That made it special.
Chris Fehmel of Shoreham, who made the presentation alongside SWR wrestling coach Joe Condon, said: “That was the best experience I’ve ever had in giving this award because his whole family was there and they were so appreciative. It was like a big family gathering. They were all supporting him for getting this award.”
The scholarship is named after Thomas Fehmel, Chris Fehmel’s brother and a former three-sport athlete at Calhoun High School who was murdered along with his fiancée in January of 1986 when they surprised a burglar while coming home to their apartment. That year, and every year since, a Calhoun athlete has received the award. Winners have been selected for SWR since 2015.
This year’s Calhoun winner was swimmer Marley Zimmerman, who will attend SUNY/Binghamton.
To be eligible, a student-athlete must have good character, leadership skills and demonstrate sportsmanship, all qualities that Chris Fehmel said his brother had.
So does Anderson, who is looking to wrestle for SUNY/Cortland. Anderson was All-County his senior season, wrestling at 138 pounds and putting up a 34-12 record.
Anderson, the fourth generation from his family to wrestle for SWR, was taken aback by his selection.
“I didn’t think I was going to get in, to be completely honest,” he said. The best thing about the scholarship, he said, was “just being recognized for something, something just bigger than myself.”
Asked what made Anderson deserving of the honor, Condon answered: “His character, his integrity, everything. He’s just relentless … He has tons of character.”
Said Condon, “It was like a fairy tale come true, and he earned it.”