The Central High School Falcons' girls basketball team celebrated Tuesday being one in ten high school basketball teams across the country to receive a $10,000 award as part of an initiative by Hibbett Sports.

The award was part of Hibbett Sports' "Support Her Sole" program, which saw Hibbett partnering with Nike to award $10,000 to ten female basketball programs across the country.

Sarah Wangaard, Vice President of Marketing for Hibbett Sports, said the program selects schools that have excelled academically as well as athletically. Black Carroll, the District Sales Manager for Hibbett in Tuscaloosa nominated CHS for the award.

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"We're thankful that we're able to be involved with Central High School and the community in Tuscaloosa, and this gives us a great opportunity to partner with you guys," Carroll said.  "I believe in continuing support of our women as well as supporting the school system."

"You see a basketball team, but what we see is teachers that call us each and every day and say 'xy' isn't doing what he or she is supposed to do. That is why we have a basketball team," said the team's coach, Michael Rivers. "There's a lot more that goes into this than just basketball. I'm extremely proud of my ladies and coworkers for making this what it is."

Over the last 20 years of coaching, Rivers has taken his teams to state championships several times, winning one title and being the runner up twice. He's accrued over 200 wins.

The presentation also included performances from the CHS band and the CHS varsity cheer team. Former WNBA player Aari McDonald appeared in a video presentation as well to congratulate the girls on the award.

"It fills my heart with joy seeing the hard work these ladies put in," said CHS Principal Teresha Jones-Hamilton. "We plant to make sure we use these funds to support our girls and just elevate them to the next level. We are very grateful."

As for what the award will go towards, Coach Rivers explained he'd like to take the girls to a tournament, as well as get some new uniforms and equipment. He would also likely supplement some miscellaneous funds like meals for the team while on the road.

"We're here to recognize what my teams have put in over the years, and not just on the athletic side," Rivers told The Thread. "I had at least five girls last year with a 4.0 GPA or higher. That speaks volumes for what we are here at Central High School."

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