Destin's Tyler Cohen named to All Sports Association

Tina Harbuck
Tyler Cohen gets a hug from his dad, Cliff, after hearing the news of being named the male scholastic recipient of the Northwest Florida All Sports Association.

What he thought was just a photo opportunity, turned out to be one of the biggest honors he’s ever received.

Destin’s Tyler Cohen, a senior at Fort Walton Beach, was named the high school male scholastic recipient of the Northwest Florida All Sports Association at lunch Monday.

As a matter of fact, the announcement came in the cafeteria.

With the Fort Walton Beach Viking band drumline marching through the middle of the cafeteria, Principal John Spolski made the announcement.

“This is a serious award at the county level,” Spolski told the students gathered in the lunchroom.

Along with Cohen who led the Viking golf team to an FCA event title and state competition this past season, Emma Rudman, a runner at Fort Walton Beach High, was named the female scholastic recipient.

“I had no idea I was getting the award. I was so surprised,” said the 17-year-old Cohen with a big smile across his face. “I didn’t know until the band started playing.”

“It’s everything, it’s so prestigious. To be able to be a part of the All Sports Association and some of those names on that list … it’s just special,” Cohen said.

For more than 40 years, the All Sports Association has brought together the finest athletes in Northwest Florida. Each February at its annual awards banquet the area’s top high school, collegiate, amateur, professional, Special Olympic athletes and individuals who have fostered youth activities are honored.

Among the list of high school winners of days gone by include such athletes as Emmitt Smith in 1987 from Escambia High, Lionel Fayard of Choctaw in 1991 and Danny Wuerffel of Fort Walton Beach in 1992.

According the the associations website, it is an “organization whose membership is made up of dues paying volunteers whose primary mission is to provide a contribution of time to raise money for local youth oriented non-profit organizations with an emphasis on sports programs.”

Cohen couldn’t stop smiling.

“I’m honored to be a part of it and it will be on my mom’s birthday, which is pretty cool,” Cohen said.

The annual banquet will be held Feb. 12 at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

The highlight of Cohens’ time on the golf course this past season was when the team went to state.

“I had been the previous two years, but it was just a great experience to go down with my team and be able to compete as a team at state. I’ll never forget the experience.

“I had some of my best rounds in my life this year … so that was exciting.”

His parents, Cliff and Kim Cohen, who were at Monday’s surprise announcement were elated and humbled to hear the news.

“We are so proud of Tyler and when you look back at all the past recipients who have gotten this award, to have Tyler considered and be named in that group is really an honor,” Cliff said.

“He has worked so very hard and we’re so thankful that he’s been here at Fort Walton Beach,” he said, noting the staff have all been supportive of Tyler.

“They have all really helped Tyler and directed him and helped him thrive at school and we couldn’t have been more pleased with him being here at Fort Walton Beach,” Cliff said.

Tyler’s been playing golf since he was about eight or nine and came up through the ranks at Destin Middle School playing at Regatta Bay, where he still practices about four or five times a week.

“He’s worked very hard and we have been happy to try and support that dream,” said his mother Kim.

Not only did Tyler enjoy this year on the course, so did his parents.

“This year was really fun,” Cliff said. “We got to watch Tyler kind of break out. He won a couple of high school tournaments this season and helped the team win their first Fellowship of Christian Athletes event. Then he went on to districts and shot a 67, with eight birdies, which was incredible because Kim and I were able to be there from the beginning … from the first tee shot to the last putt he made, that was fun to watch.”

But what the Cohen’s are most proud of is “the student-athlete portion” of the award.

“It’s about him as a student athlete, and when Tyler leaves Fort Walton, he’s going to go off as a student first and as an athlete … that’s our focus. He takes his scholastics very serious.”

Tyler carries a 4.43 weighted GPA and a 3.9 unweighted GPA.

Although he’s been tops on the golf course, his focus has been in the classroom.

“I put more focus on academics,” Tyler said. “That’s something I’ve really had to try hard and put work in to. Athletics is important, but really academics is where you make your money. It’s how you build your future if athletics doesn’t work out.”

Although he has no definite plans as to where he will attend college, he hopes to keep his game in the south where it’s a little warmer.

But for now he’s just enjoying the recognition.

“It’s one of the biggest awards I’ve received in my life and I’m honored,” Tyler said.