ELKHART -- When Mason Braden was informed Tuesday night that he had just been chosen the winner of the Tim Bringle Award, he coincidentally happened to be at the home of 1983 Bringle winner Richard Delks, working on a school project with Delks' daughter Emily.
"Mr. Delks gave me the phone, which was really cool," Braden said. "It kind of felt like he was actually passing the award down. It was pretty special."
Not surprisingly, an appreciation of history is one of Braden's ace subjects.
After all, they're all ace subjects. He ranks No. 1 in Central High School's senior class with a weighted grade point average of 4.53 on a 4.0 scale.
Braden's known his lofty standing academically for quite some time, but to also stand No. 1 among Elkhart Community Schools' senior male athletes -- as the Bringle Award represents -- is something that caught Braden by surprise Tuesday.
"I'm really excited, and a little stunned," Braden said. "I really wasn't expecting it. I know it puts me with a lot of great athletes."
The Bringle Award is in its 65th year. A committee of 12, featuring past winners, voted on the latest recipient.
Braden, who will continue with basketball at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., starred on both the basketball and tennis courts for the Blue Blazers.
His final year of doing so even came on the heels of a seven-week summer stint in San Luis Potosî, Mexico, as part of an Indiana University honors program in foreign language.
"It's one of the coolest things I've ever done," Braden said. "You live with a family there and speak nothing but Spanish. You have classes during the day. Some were foreign language, but also things like literature, culture, dance."
The trip took Braden away from some of the offseason basketball preparation that many say is critical to in-season success, but that's not how it worked out in Braden's case.
"I didn't play much basketball, which I did think might be a problem," Braden acknowledged, "but when I came back and really got back into it, it felt really good. I was able to step back and see how important basketball was to me. I felt completely refreshed when I came back."
The 6-foot-7 Braden helped lead the Blue Blazers to a 13-11 mark in basketball, after he repeated as an All-Northern Indiana Conference first-teamer in tennis.
The son of Steve and Marjorie Braden, both ordained ministers, Mason plans to study both psychology and Spanish at St. Olaf.
He's not sure exactly what he wants to do with that combination, "but it will be something where I'm helping people in some way."
And likely doing so with a calm, level-headed demeanor that became his trademark on both the basketball and tennis courts.
"That's just kind of naturally who I am," Braden said. "I know some people need to get hopped up for the game, but I try to never get too high or too low. That's just my mindset naturally. I think if I got too excited, it would mess me up."
TIM BRINGLE AWARD
2011 WINNER MASON BRADEN
Became Central's first-ever Indiana Basketball Coaches Association academic all-state first-teamer this past season. Averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds to go with 62 percent field goal shooting for the 13-11 Blue Blazers and earned Elkart Truth All-Area second-team honors. Named team Mental Attitude Award winner and captain. Co-recipient of inaugural Bill Milliner scholarship. Earned three letters overall and was a two-year starter.
Chosen team Mental Attitude Award winner all four years. Selected to the All-NIC first team in doubles each of his final two seasons with two different partners (Connor Anderson as a junior, Austin Sellers as a senior). Compiled career record of 36-21.
Ranks No. 1 in Central's senior class of 325 students with a weighted GPA of 4.53, and No. 2 in regular GPA at 3.99. Is student council class president and has been on council all four years. National Honor Society member and chosen Central's outstanding student in both English and Spanish. Active in church youth group and choir.
A dinner program honoring Braden and Junior Bringle recipients is set for 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at Christiana Creek Country Club. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under. RSVP to Paul Stemm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 264-9301.
2001 -- Sean Broderick (Memorial). 2002 -- Kyle Sears (Memorial). 2003 -- Jerimy Robinson (Central). 2004 -- Marcus Perez (Central). 2005 -- Nick Corpe (Memorial). 2006 -- Ben Battjes (Memorial). 2007 -- Nate Palmer (Central). 2008 -- Josh Robinson (Central). 2009 -- Korey Carpenter (Central) and Robert FitzSimmons (Memorial). 2010 -- Zack Corpe (Memorial).