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The winner was recognized at the Durham Sports Club’s luncheon meeting at the Croasdaile Country Club in June. The award is known as the Russell E. Blunt Be A Good Sport award, in honor of the late long-time Durham Hillside coach who is a member of both the NCHSAA Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Novicki was nominated by South Lenoir athletic director Jimmy Smith and selected as a finalist for the award, along with several others, by an NCHSAA committee. Then a special committee of the Durham Sports Club selected Novicki as the overall statewide winner. Every school in the state was given the opportunity to nominate a student-athlete who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship.
The South Lenoir standout was an outstanding three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. He was a two-time all-conference player in basketball and twice served as captain of the South team, leading it to its first conference championship in 25 years.
He lost his sight practically overnight at the age of 14 due to an infection and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. But a corneal transplant and lots of hard work enabled him to return to athletics. Through it all, Novicki displayed a remarkable spirit and became a model, in terms of sportsmanship, for athletes at his school.
Novicki was recognized by the NCHSAA at its 2005 Annual Meeting as the recipient of the Tony Simeon Courage Award.
Other finalists for the award included Amanda Pope of North Johnston, Haskins Howerton of Asheville, James McNamara of Wilson Hunt, Heather Hollis of East Columbus, Jonathan Thrasher of Southern Alamance, Kendal Purvis of South Stanly, and Brian Lackey of Alexander Central.
South Lenoir will receive a cash donation for its athletic budget as a gift from the Durham Sports Club in honor of their student-athletes.