The winner of the annual Bill Buchalter Spirit Award, presented by the Orlando Sentinel to high school athletes who have persevered through personal struggles, will also be awarded scholarship money, thanks to the family of the famed sportswriter who passed away in July 2021. The amount of the scholarship is still being determined.
The Bill Buchalter Spirit Award was established in 2008 as part of the Orlando Sentinel’s Varsity Sports Awards. It was named for Buchalter, who spent 40 years covering sports for the Sentinel. His press credentials include high school track meets, college football bowl games, Final Four Championships, World Series games, NBA Finals, Super Bowls and the Olympic Games. But he made a name for himself as the go-to resource for college coaches looking for information on high school athletes.
Following his passing, his long-time partner Stephanie Engelberg, along with his children Lesley Buchalter and Chuck Buchalter, worked with the Florida Sports Hall of Fame to establish a scholarship to accompany the award named in his honor.
“Bill’s passion in life was to give every high school athlete a moment to shine,” the family said. “After Bill’s retirement from the Sentinel, we never went anywhere without someone coming up to him and thanking him for the kind words that he wrote about them, their children or their grandchildren. This was the legacy he left to the Central Florida Community.”
Bill was a long-time board member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and is also one of only two sportswriters to have been inducted.
“Bill is a legend in the state,” said Florida Sports Hall of Fame President Rick Hatcher. “He worked tirelessly to promote high school athletics in the state, and made a difference in so many lives. By establishing the Bill Buchalter Spirit Award Scholarship, his impact on the lives of young athletes in the state will continue.”
The scholarship was announced at a public memorial service held at Showalter Field, in Winter Park, FL, home to many of the events Buchalter covered. Contributions to the fund may be made by visiting the Bill Buchalter Spirit Award Scholarship page.