When it comes to the term student-athlete, too often the student is silent.
The media, and we share in the blame, have historically been too quick to attach large headlines to an athlete’s on-field accomplishments, while giving too little attention — if any — to the academic achievements of our young people. In a world correctly spinning on its axis, making the honor roll would draw louder cheers than scoring a touchdown.
Mountaire Farms, one of Robeson County’s largest employers and one that understands its civic mission, The Robesonian and two sister newspapers are trying to put some balance in those scales with the The Mountaire/Heartland Scholar Athlete Award, which this year for the first time will extend into Scotland and Bladen counties, making it bigger than ever.
It is also better than ever — and we will explain why in a few paragraphs.
First, we want to introduce the award to those who don’t frequent our sports pages, where it has been featured for the last two years.
Each month during the school year, from September through May, The Robesonian, the Laurinburg Exchange and the Bladen Journal will accept nominations from high schools in those counties, including six in Robeson County, of student-athletes who are excelling in the classroom and on the field. A panel will then review the nominations and select a monthly winner, who will be awarded a plaque, be featured in an article published in those newspapers and — this is the better part — for the first time, be granted $1,000 in college scholarship money.
At the end of the school year, a male and female Mountaire/Heartland Scholar Athlete of the Year will be selected from the previous winners, will be awarded a plaque at a celebratory banquet, featured in a newspaper article and granted an additional $1,500 in scholarship money.
What we need are nominations, which is your role in all this.
To nominate a student-athlete from a Robeson County high school, send the following information to this newspaper at Mountaire Athlete of the Month, The Robesonian, P.O. Box 1028, Lumberton, N.C, 28359: name and gender of student; high school attending; school-sponsored sport(s) in which the student participates; verification of grades: either a copy of the previous marking period report card or a letter from school counselor stating student’s GPA; and a written recommendation from his or her coach.
We know there are plenty of deserving student-athletes out there, and we also know, with ours being a poor county, that for some, scholarship money could reroute their life in a much better direction.
So help this newspaper and Mountaire Farms identify and then help these deserving and inspirational young people.