North Carolina High School Athletic Association

2023-2024 Tony Cullen Memorial Scholarship Award

The Tony Cullen Memorial Scholarship was created to provide scholarship support to four senior high school student-athletes participating on a varsity level lacrosse team at a North Carolina High School Athletic Association member school, planning to attend a college or university in pursuit of higher education. This year, each winner will receive a one-time $2,500 scholarship.

This scholarship is given in memory of former player, coach, and official, Tony Cullen. Tony Cullen, a former Chapel Hill resident, played and coached lacrosse at Duke University in the 80’s and became an official in the early 90’s.

The winners of the Tony Cullen Memorial Scholarship for 2023-24 are Alden Cathey from Orange High School, Devan Maready from Croatan High School, Emma Penkunas from Holly Springs High school and Jackson Spells from Green Level High School.

Cathey was a member of the Orange Men’s Lacrosse team that finished as NCHSAA 1A/2A/3A Runner-up in the 2024 season and was regional runner-up in each of the last two seasons. Cathey was All-Conference and 3rd-Team All-State and 3rd-Team All-Region as a junior and was a captain and Bull City All-Star this season. He also ran Track and Cross Country for Orange and participated in the State Championship Cross Country Meet three straight years. He was the President of the Student Government Association, the National Spanish Honors Society, the Habitat for Humanity and the Stretch Club. He is also active with HPC, Younglife and the FCA. Cathey runs Panther Pockets which is a lacrosse stringing and dyeing service for stick customization and has shipped products as far as Canada. He also coaches youth recreation lacrosse teams with the Carolina Hilltoppers. Cathey sports a 4.00 unweighted GPA and plans to play lacrosse and study Physical Therapy at Arcadia University.

Maready played lacrosse all four years for the Croatan Women’s Team and helped her team win the 1A/2A/3A NCHSAA State Championship in 2023. She was named All-Conference all four years  and was third-team All-State and second-team All-Region in 2023. She represented Team NC in the USA Lacrosse National Tournament in 2023 and competed in the Body Armour Games. This year, she was selected as a Bull City All-Star and reached 500 career saves. She is a member of the Beta Club and Student2Student, which is a program that helps new students transition into the school. Maready graduated with an unweighted GPA of 4.00 and plans to play lacrosse and study political science at Queen’s University of Charlotte. 

Penkunas was a four-year starter for the Holly Springs Women’s Lacrosse Team and was All-Conference as a junior and scored more than 200 career goals. She was a team captain as a junior and a senior. She was a member of the National Honor Society, HSHS Morgan’s Message Chapter lead Ambassador, Meg’s Smile Volunteer, Town of Holly Springs Youth Lacrosse Coach and Alpha Female Athlete Youth Lacrosse Coach. She also works part-time as a DSW Store Associate. Penkunas graduated with a 3.85 unweighted GPA and will play lacrosse and study criminal justice at Campbell University. 

Spells played all four years for the Green Level High School Men’s Lacrosse team and the Gators just won the NCHSAA 4A Men’s Lacrosse Championship. He was all conference as a freshman and sophomore before breaking his ankle early in his junior season. He returned for his senior year and scored 32 goals and added 22 assists. He also holds the school record for the 500 meter race and the 4×400 meter relay in indoor track. He volunteers with Urban Ministries, Duke Memorial Church Mobile Market and Omega Psi Phi Boys Camp in addition to working with Naiton United Lacrosse to help increase access to lacrosse in racially and financially underrepresented communities. Spells graduated with a 3.7 unweighted GPA and will play lacrosse and study mechanical engineering at Duke University.