Noah Tapp did not have much time to revel in being named the 32nd recipient of the Tommy Bell Award.
Tapp, a senior at Henry Clay High School, had to bolt from the Fasig-Tipton dining room, where the award presentation was held, to Shillito Park, where at 2 p.m. he was scheduled to play in the second round of the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament. He won his first-round match Thursday morning then rushed home to take a shower before heading over to the afternoon ceremony. To top it all off, Tapp had a senior-recognition ceremony at Henry Clay to attend Thursday night.
“It’s probably been the busiest week of my life, for sure,” Tapp said. “It’s the culmination of school, athletics and academics. ... I’m just trying to keep focus on one thing at a time. It’s definitely an exciting time and hopefully I can handle all those things well and do my best at the state tournament.”
Tapp became the fourth straight student-athlete from Henry Clay to win the Tommy Bell Award, presented each year to a student who excels inside and outside athletics. It is named after the late Tommy Bell, a respected Lexington lawyer who is the only person to have ever officiated an NCAA men’s basketball championship game and a Super Bowl.
When he was notified he’d won the award, Tapp was shown a list of the previous award recipients dating back to its inception in 1986.
“We have a couple Henry Clay kids from the last couple years that are very well known at Henry Clay and other awesome names, like Darrin Horn, that popped out, that I knew,” Tapp said. “It’s really an honor to be on that list and I’m very proud to have my name up there with all those other people who’ve accomplished a lot of cool things.”
Bell’s son, Judge Bruce Bell, presented the award at Thursday’s meeting of the Lexington Rotary Club.
Tapp is one of four No. 5 seeds in the boys’ singles state tournament. He was runner-up at the 11th Region Tournament after winning three straight region championships as a doubles player in prior seasons.
He will play tennis at Washington and Lee, a Division III school in Virginia. Tapp is considering studying business or finance.
Tommy Bell Award winners