ON SPORTS: St. Paul senior wins state High School Heisman
Nov. 14, 2012 at 5:14 a.m.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR High School Heisman
Be a senior and have a cumulative high school grade point average (GPA) of a B (3.0) or better.
Participate in at least one of 27 eligible school-sponsored sports.
Be a leader in school and in the community and serve as a role model for underclassmen.
SHINER - Cole Hybner was concerned when he was called to the school office last week.
"I thought I was in trouble a little bit," he admitted.
Hybner was not only relieved, but ecstatic when St. Paul Principal Neely Yackel informed him he had been selected as the male state finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman.
The 18-year-old senior was chosen from the 2,633 applicants in Texas for the award, which is based on athletics, academics and community leadership.
Hybner became the second member of his family to receive the honor, his older brother, Blue, won the state and national awards in 2010.
"I went on the trip to New York with Blue and it was awesome," Cole said. "I decided I wanted to do it too."
The decision to enter was the easy part for Cole. Completing the application was another matter.
Hybner has dyslexia and has struggled to read and write his entire life.
"Whenever you're doing your homework, it's a little more difficult," Hybner said. "You've got to read a little bit slower and find the answers in the textbook. You've got to work a little harder than everybody else to decipher the answers. It requires a lot more concentration, thinking and time."
Hybner has put in many hours reading since entering school. He has been tutored and has worked tirelessly to keep up his with his schoolwork.
"He deals with dyslexia that is real bad," said Cole Franco, who teaches speech and coaches baseball at St. Paul. "I've listened to him read and helped him. He's an unbelievable student because he knows how to overcome adversity and something that's such a negative.
"When you're looking for an award winner, you're looking for not only students who have natural talent, but those who overcome obstacles."
Hybner has faced and overcome obstacles on the athletic field as well as the classroom, where he has a grade point average of between 3.8 and 3.9 and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Hybner pitched and played the outfield and was the Newcomer of the Year on the Advocate's all-area baseball team as a freshman.
He helped lead the Cardinals to the TAPPS Class 1A/2A state championship as a sophomore.
He dislocated his left knee, the push-off knee for a left-handed pitcher, and missed the first half of last season.
But he came back to compile a 4-0 record with an 0.32 ERA while striking out 36 in 21.2 innings.
He hit .565 with one home run and nine RBIs as St. Paul advanced to the state final for the third consecutive season.
Hybner decided not to play football this season and is preparing for the upcoming baseball season by playing for the San Antonio Sliders select team.
"He's a great young pitcher with tons of talent and tons of room for growth," Franco said. "He's an unbelievable young man. You know what you're going to get every single day. It doesn't matter if it's school, athletic period or baseball. He's going to give you his best every day."
Hybner was disappointed when he found out he didn't win the national award and won't be making another trip to New York.
But Hybner has set his sights on following in the footsteps of brothers Trevor (Iona), Dagen (LaTourneau) and Blue (Hill College) and doing whatever it takes to get the opportunity to play baseball on the college level.
"It's still sometimes a struggle every day," he said. "It's just facing that you're going to have to work at it and try harder than most people."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.