North Carolina High School Athletic Association

Garner Senior recognized with NFHS/NCHSAA Spirit of Sport Award for 2017

CHAPEL HILL – The NCHSAA participates in the “Spirit of Sport Award” program sponsored by the National Federation of State High School Associations. It was established to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport that represents the core mission of education-based athletics. The award is given in recognition of a specific act or an activity of longer duration. Nominees can be a coach, athletic administrator, trainer, student-athlete or any others associated with the school’s athletic program.

Declan Newkirk – Garner High School

Garner High School senior, Declan Newkirk, is the manager of the Garner Trojans football team, but he is not just the manager, he has been the heart, soul and cheerleader of the team that he loves so much for the last four years.

When Declan was six, he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Throughout his early schooling years, he typically bonded mostly with teachers and adults. When Declan arrived at high school, then Garner Football Coach Nelson Smith asked him to be the team’s manager. That’s when Declan’s every day school experience changed.

Read more about Declan’s story through the November 2016 Raleigh News & Observer article by Sarah Nagem that was submitted as part of his nomination for this award recognition here.

Commissioner Que Tucker said, “Declan embodies the true spirit of education-based athletics. He has demonstrated great dedication to both his team and community. His enthusiastic attitude and his perseverance in duties as a football manager at Garner High School for the last four seasons as well as his integration into the fabric of the team and school communities, make him a perfect selection for this award.”

Newkirk will be presented with this award at the NCHSAA’s Annual Meeting in Chapel Hill on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at the Dean E. Smith Center.