EAGAN, Minn. – In the midst of unique and challenging times, three Minnesota high school seniors received surprise phone calls from Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
Isabelle Olson, Gavin Peterson and Alison Rutz were selected as the 2020 Mike Zimmer Foundation MVP scholarship recipients. Each will receive a $10,000 (one-time, non-renewable) scholarship toward postsecondary education.
The trio of student athletes were chosen in recognition of their dedication to academics, athletics and community. Recipients and their families are typically invited to attend the Mike Zimmer Golf Class pre-party for the check presentation. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, the foundation honored the students virtually with the hope of welcoming them to a future Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Mike Zimmer Foundation was established in 2016 to honor the memory and philanthropic spirit of Vikki Zimmer, who passed away unexpectedly in 2008.
The foundation has now awarded $100,000 to 10 Minnesota students since the first in 2016.
This year marks the first time that three scholarship recipients have been chosen after two were selected in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
"It's been a really difficult time for the foundation having to cancel most of our events this year due to coronavirus. We know that the seniors have also missed out on a lot of events such as prom and graduation," Executive Director Corri Zimmer White said. "Giving out an additional scholarship was something we could do to bring some positivity – not only to the foundation but also to help an additional student during these challenging times.
"It's always difficult to pick just two winners out of the big stack of impressive applications we get, so being able to pick three was really exciting," Zimmer White added.
Learn more about the 2020 MVP scholarship winners below:
Isabelle Olson | Grand Meadow High School
College: University of Minnesota
Field of study: Mass Communications
Isabelle is an impressive three-sport athlete, having earned a combined 14 letters in basketball, volleyball and track. She is the captain of her basketball and volleyball teams and a three-time state track participant, where she won third place in the 4x100 meter run in 2019. Isabelle also served as class vice president, class secretary and executive treasurer in student council, as well as a member of the Grand Meadow National Honor Society.
She also earned the nickname "QB 1" from her basketball coach when she started as a varsity point guard as a ninth-grader.
When Isabelle isn't at school, playing sports or volunteering, she enjoys spending her time at the lake, fishing, golfing, boating and attending Minnesota sporting events.
Isabelle is excited to continue her education at the University of Minnesota and aspires to start a career that allows her to use her creativity in business advertising. She plans to study abroad, join a sorority and continue playing sports.
Gavin Peterson | Maple Grove Senior High School
College: University of Nebraska or University of Kansas
Field of Study: Pre-Med/Biology
Gavin is a three-sport standout athlete in soccer, track and wrestling (serving as a captain for the latter two) despite being legally blind in his left eye. A five-time letter winner in wrestling, he racked up 155 career varsity wins. Gavin also earned four academic letters and scored in the 95th percentile in the United States on his ACT.
Gavin enjoys giving back in his community by volunteering at Feed My Starving Children, the Patrick Schoonover Heart Foundation, Maple Grove youth wrestling and Saint Joseph Catholic Church.
Last November, Gavin was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, which has motivated him to work towards becoming a doctor. After medical school, he would also like to serve in the Army Reserves as a combat physician, fulfilling his other career goal of serving as a U.S. Army Officer and following in the footsteps of his father.
Alison Rutz | Mankato West Senior High School
College: Minnesota State University, Mankato
Field of Study: Bio-Medical Sciences
A four-year varsity soccer starter and two-year captain, Alison earned All-Conference and All-State First-Team honors in 2019. She also is heavily involved in extracurricular activities, including Key Club, Link Crew, Project For Teens and Knowledge Bowl.
She was awarded the Big 9 scholar Athlete for being an outstanding scholar athlete and received the Spotlight on Scholarship Award by Mankato West.
Alison's hobbies outside of school and athletics include baking, hiking, wakeboarding, paddle boarding and yoga. She is excited to major in Bio-Medical Sciences, followed by furthering her education in medical school, where her dream is working in pediatrics and caring for children.