North Carolina High School Athletic Association

2023-2024 Pat Gainey Student Scholarship Awards

The awards are made possible by a gift from the late Pat Gainey’s daughter, Mrs. Berry Jo Gainey Shoen. The student scholarship award is available to NCHSAA member schools in counties with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more for children 17 and under. Recipients can be either a female athlete or a male baseball player meeting the established criteria.

A native of Dunn, Gainey recorded a phenomenal record in women’s basketball and was a real supporter of women’s athletics.  His overall record at Pamlico was an incredible 93-6 in women’s basketball, and he also fielded outstanding baseball teams there. He then moved to Taylorsville, where he coached from 1955-64. His women’s basketball teams won five Western North Carolina High School Activities Association titles and, at one point, recorded 54 consecutive wins and 140 straight conference victories. His overall women’s basketball mark was 358-57.

The Gainey Student Scholarship recognizes athletic achievement and strength of character. The criteria for this year’s award included that the student be a senior female athlete or male baseball player with at least a cumulative GPA of 3.2, possess a strong work ethic, demonstrate athletic success during the high school career and demonstrate respect for coaches and teammates. Scholarships are currently for $5000 each.

The recipients of the Pat Gainey Awards for 2023-2024 are Allie Popp from Southwestern Randolph and Ragan Shields from Pamlico.

Popp played tennis all four years at Southwestern Randolph and was Academic All-Conference each year. Her senior year, she won the team Most Valuable Player Award as well as Conference Player of the Year and a part of the Doubles Team that won the conference championship. She was Southwestern Randolph’s CTE Presidential Scholar, a member of the Beta Club and scored Platinum on the WorkKeys Exam. She graduated first in her class and plans to study Neurobiology in college.

“Beyond her athletic accomplishments, Allie’s strength of character shines through

in every aspect of her life,” said Tennis Coach Lori Lagrama. “She is a natural leader who leads by example, inspiring her teammates with her positive attitude, integrity, and unwavering commitment to excellence. Allie’s leadership extends beyond the tennis court, as evidenced by her involvement in various extracurricular activities and community service initiatives.”

Shields played basketball and baseball all four years at Pamlico and was an All-Conference performer each year in baseball. He graduated with a 4.2 GPA and 11th in his class. He has volunteered with the Christmas parade, a local preschool and elementary school, basketball camps and has worked in the concession stand at several different sporting events at Pamlico. Ragan plans to study Physical Therapy in college.

“As a person, Ragan’s character and integrity are what impress me most. He’s transparent and honest about his blessings and the troubles he’s endured as a teenager, especially supporting his mom’s battle with cancer,” said former teach Betsy McCadnless. “He understands value and isn’t afraid to buck the normal trends his peers follow to demand better for his own life. Ragan is special.”