LUMBERTON — As Roger Marino looked around the banquet hall at Pinecrest Country Club on Wednesday, he gazed at the 10 high school students around him and saw the future.
“Never before has our country needed young leaders like these now,” Marino, the community relations director for Mountaire Farms, said.
The 10, along with parents and high school administrators, had gathered at the club for the annual Mountaire Farms/Civitas Media Scholar-Athlete of the Month banquet. Marino presented each of the student-athletes with $1,000 scholarship checks. The night ended with Alexis Roberson, of St. Pauls High School, and Colby Johnson, of Lumberton, receiving the Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards and additional scholarship money.
“It’s an honor,” Johnson said. “It’s an honor to even be here in the first place. It’s great just to see how all the hard work pays off and see it through to the end.”
Roberson became the second student-athlete in a row from St. Pauls to win a Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Roberson is follows Kane Banner, who received last year’s male Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
The program highlights male and female senior student-athletes within Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher. Nominees need to also be recognized by their coaches for outstanding sportsmanship and perform with superior ability in athletic competition.
“I really didn’t expect to get it,” Roberson said. “But then when I got up there and they said my name, it was an honor.”
Roberson, the daughter of former South Robeson football coach Stephen Roberson, excelled in the classroom with 4.7 weighted GPA that earned her valedictorian honors, while also has succeeding in every sport she has participated in.
Her resume includes a state title in the 4x200 meter relay in track and field during her junior year, as well as All-Conference and All-County accolades from her campaigns on the basketball court.
When she’s not focusing on athletics, she’s the NHS president, Student Government Vice President and is involved in multiple other clubs around the school.
The drive to succeed has moved Roberson into a position to also succeed at the next level. She will be moving on to Xavier University in Louisiana with a full academic scholarship and the goal of becoming a doctor.
“I know I have to stay on top of myself in order to keep the scholarship,” Roberson said
That idea of focusing on education at the next level is shared by the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award winner. Johnson is moving on to study business at the University of North Carolina, a goal he has had since he was young.
“My grandma went to Chapel Hill. My dad went to Chapel Hill, so I’ve just always wanted to go to Chapel Hill,” Johnson said. “I’m living the dream. I’m excited.”
Johnson’s accolades in the classroom include a 4.66 weighted GPA, good enough for eighth in his class. He is also a North Carolina Scholar Candidate, as well as class president, NHS president and a leader in several of the school’s clubs.
His work ethic isn’t restricted to the classroom though, as he was a captain on the Lumberton soccer, basketball and golf teams this year, and earned All-Conference and All-Region awards in each sport he participated in.
For him, the key to success was working hard at everything he was a part of.
“I think it’s just getting involved,” Johnson said. “It goes beyond just being on the sports team. It’s getting involved in the clubs and activities at your school and just staying on top of your school work.”
And for Roberson, it was an echo of the work put into every aspect of life, but particularly an education.
“I always put school first,” she said. “Everybody wants to work hard in what they are participating in sports-wise, but you have to put school first too.”