Iron basketball’s Sophia Feeney wins Holiday Classic Scholarship


Sophia Feeney helped lead the Iron girls basketball team to a State Farm Holiday Classic Title this season. Now, she is being recognized as Holiday Classic Scholarship award winner for her on- and off-the-court excellence.

Sophia Feeney was announced as a 2023 Holiday Classic Scholarship award recipient on May 4.

The scholarship, which recognizes seniors who participated in the 2022 State Farm Holiday Classic basketball tournament, awards Feeney $1,500 towards her college tuition next year. 

The tournament, Feeney said, is “something [she] look[ed] forward to” every season playing for the Iron. 

The senior will attend Illinois Wesleyan, where she will continue her athletic career as a member of the Titans basketball and volleyball programs next year.

Learning of the award, Feeney “couldn’t believe” she was one of the scholarship’s four winners.

“I was definitely really excited,” she said. “To be honored for that is very special.”

“For nearly twenty years,” Holiday Classic Scholarship committee coordinator Mike Sondgeroth said in a press release, “we have looked for ways to go beyond just hosting a basketball tournament and recognize those who participate in our event. And we very pleased to honor these four student-athletes…. [for] their involvement in academics, athletics and their communities.”

Feeney was selected from a pool of forty applicants by a committee of educators for her leadership skills and academic performance. 

The two-sport varsity standout was a three-time MVP for the Iron while maintaining a 4.021 GPA. 

As a freshman, “I wasn’t a great leader,” Feeney said. “I was very quiet.” 

But by her senior year, she served as a captain for the basketball and volleyball teams. 

“I’ve grown, and I’ve become more talkative and can show the underclassmen what to do,” Feeney said.

Feeney attributes some of her leadership development to volleyball coach Ms. Christine Konopasek.

“Her believing in me made me the leader that I was senior year,” Feeney said. “She took me in as a freshman on varsity.” 

That vote of confidence from Konopasek helped Feeney see that she “was capable of becoming a leader.”

Off the court, Feeney was a member of Normal’s National Honor Society and I-Club leadership group and volunteered at a local nursing home and the annual Alzheimer’s Walk and Special Olympics Illinois State Basketball Tournament. 

Feeney has participated in athletics her entire academic career, something she said that has made it “kind of easy to balance both.”

While at times, she said, it was a challenge to practice after school and then finish homework, she has “learned to time-manage.” 

The award’s three other recipients were Chase Fisher of Bloomington Central Catholic High School, Brooke Howard of Rock Falls High School and Max Niesman of Oswego High School

The Holiday Classic Scholarship has granted $85,000 in scholarships in the last 18 years. 

The 2023 State Farm Holiday Classic is scheduled for Dec. 27, 28, 29 and 30, hosting the 44th annual boys tournament and 26th girls tournament.

For more information about the tournament and a complete list of participating teams, visit the official website at