The NFF Scholar-Athlete awards are designed to recognize exceptional individuals as the best and brightest in the country for their accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens in high school. Selected from a field of more than 400,000 high …
Powell grad invited to December banquet in the Big ApplePowell's Gavin Mills, now in his first year at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, has been named one of five National Scholar-Athlete award winners by the National Football Foundation. Mills will travel with his parents, Gary and Gail Mills, to New York City in December to be honored at an NFF awards luncheon.“I was in shock when I found out,” Mills said via telephone from the Air Force Academy. “I thought winning at the state level was a huge honor due to the caliber of people competing. I had no idea that it'd go this far. It's really cool and quite an honor.”
The NFF Scholar-Athlete awards are designed to recognize exceptional individuals as the best and brightest in the country for their accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens in high school. Selected from a field of more than 400,000 high school football players covered by the NFF chapter network, Mills and the other four national finalists will be honored for their combined accomplishments on Dec. 8 at the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in downtown New York City.
The athletes will also be recognized and attend the induction banquet for the College Football Hall of Fame that evening.
“I've never been east of the Mississippi River in my life,” said Mills. “So the thought of going to New York City is kind of overwhelming. I'm excited that my parents will get to make the trip with me. The Wyoming chapter has been a real blessing in helping out.”
In addition to the formal award and recognition ceremonies, Mills and the other national finalists will have plenty of opportunity to explore the city. The group will also take in a Broadway musical.
“I just want to go ice skating in Central Park with my mom,” Mills said of his personal plans for exploring New York City.
The announcement of being named a national finalist came at an opportune time for Mills. The first-year cadet suffered a broken leg on his fifth day of football practice at the Air Force Academy and was forced to spend the next six weeks rehabbing.
“I really feel like God blessed me and timed this announcement when I needed a pick up,” said Mills. “There are so many crazy new things that I've been confronted with down here and my life has changed so drastically over the last couple of months. It was really nice to kind of step back from it all and receive something special for high school.”
Mills is back on the field now, serving as a member of the Falcons' scout team each week.
“Now that the whole rehab thing is behind me, I'm having a blast,” Mills said. “Football is a sport that I love and it is such a big part of my life. It's really amazing to be playing alongside some of the best athletes in the country. You have to bring your A-game to every play in practice and help get the team ready for the next opponent.”
While at Powell High School, Mills served as a team captain during both his junior and senior seasons. He earned first team all-conference and all-state honors for three consecutive years.
On defense, he was named the Panthers' team defensive MVP, recording a total of 335 defensive points, including 67 solo tackles, 103 assists and 11 pass interceptions during his career. As a wide receiver on offense, he hauled in 66 receptions for 905 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Mills was a 4.0 student and three-year member of the National Honor Society. He claimed the distinguished scholastic achievement award and the Wyoming Coaches' Association Academic Award all four years of his high school career.
Mills was the student body president of Powell High School during his senior year and served as class president his junior year. He was active in his church as a Sunday school teacher and member of the youth group music team. He also volunteered for Hoops for Hope, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Heartland Assisted Living facility and the community food drive.