Schlaufman: Scholar-Athlete returns to reward area’s top seniors

First Posted: 9/2/2014

From football to volleyball to cross country, it’s clear that fall sports are back in season.

Around the region, there’s an abundance of kills, goals, aces, birdies and touchdowns as fans fill both stadiums and gymnasiums, all while people like me write about them.

Being a fan is fun, but high school athletes get a little extra: classes and plenty of homework.

Though athletic accolades will undoubtedly earn headlines across the country, it’s easy to paint athletes into a corner, recognizing only what they achieve in a small facet of their lives. But long after the scoreboard is turned off for the night and their photo has been printed in the paper, many student-athletes will still be hitting the books and working towards a future beyond sports.

For senior athletes that value both high academic performance and high athletic skill, Mountaire Farms is once again teaming with Civitas Media, the parent company of The Robesonian, to offer the Scholar-Athlete of the Month award program to high school senior athletes attending schools in Robeson, Bladen and Scotland counties.

Nominations are now open for this year’s program, which will honor its first athlete later this month and give away a $1,000 scholarship to a winner each month until June. Monthly winners will be eligible for an extra $1,500 scholarship that will be awarded in June to the male and female Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

Winners will also receive an engraved chrystal trophy and their school receives a banner acknowledging the accomplishment.

Upon selection, the winner each month will be the focus of a story that will run in The Robesonian, the Bladen Journal and the Laurinburg Exchange. Nominated students must be seniors that participate on two or more varsity teams, as captain of one, and carry at least a 3.0 GPA.

The program attracts a variety of submissions, which are hard to generalize.

Last year we recognized students from seven different schools within the three counties, including Fairmont, Lumberton, East and West Bladen, Scotland, St. Pauls and Purnell Swett. Monthly winners played a variety of sports, from soccer and volleyball, to football and golf, to cheerleading and softball, with talents that included everything from spot starters to state champions.

They worked hard outside of the classroom in clubs and church, all while maintaining the kind of grade point averages that got them into schools including North Carolina State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Xavier University in Louisiana.

It’s no shortage to say that the 10 winners were some of the finest students in any of the three counties and this year’s class is ripe with the same potential.

To nominate a student-athlete, send a package that includes their name, gender, the name of their school and which sports the athlete participates in. A coach recommendation and a transcript, report card or other form verifying the student’s grades must also be submitted at the time of nomination. A resume listing any extracurricular activities may also be attached.

All nominations can be mailed to The Robesonian, attn: Scott Schlaufman, 2175 N Roberts Ave, Lumberton, N.C. Nominations outside of Robeson County can also be given to Logan Martinez at the Laurinburg Exchange or Curt Vincent at the Bladen Journal. The combined sports staff at the three papers will determine each month’s winner.

It’s an easy way for us, as well as our partners at Mountaire Farms, to recognize that the students who populate our communities are not just athletes but the leaders of the future.