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The top athletic award which any athlete in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association can earn is the NCHSAA Athlete of the Year.
Some of the state's most outstanding prep athletes have earned this honor since its inception in 1986. A committee of sports writers and sports broadcasters from the state, chaired by Earl Vaughan of the Fayetteville Observer, makes the selection each spring. The committee accepts nominations from any NCHSAA member school.
Many of the players have gone on to collegiate stardom and a couple, including Patrick Lennon in professional baseball, Chester McGlockton and Ethan Albright in the National Football League, and Andrea Stinson in the WNBA, have made their mark in professional athletics.
The winners of this award earn the Pat Best Memorial Trophy. The award is named for the late Pat Best, the former Goldsboro High School principal who was president of the NCHSAA at the time of his death in 1988.
Kareem Martin of Roanoke Rapids High School and Leah Mackley of Pender High School were the winners of the 2010 Athlete of the Year awards given by the NCHSAA.
A complete list of the previous winners, dating back to the inaugural year of the award, in 1985-86, can be found elsewhere on the NCHSAA web site by going to the navigation bar at the top of the home page and clicking on Scholarships/Awards and then clicking on Athletes of the Year.