Former North Carolina Distance Runner Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

     INDIANAPOLIS— Kayla Montgomery, a 2014 graduate of Mount Tabor High School, has been selected as the 2015 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

     The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.

    After experiencing numbness in her legs following a soccer injury during her freshman year, Montgomery was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While such a diagnosis might have frustrated most high school athletes or permanently placed them on the sidelines, Montgomery instead persevered with an unwavering sense of drive and dedication.

    Following her soccer injury, Montgomery decided to pursue distance running. Initially one of the slowest runners on the team, Montgomery told her high school coach Patrick Cromwell at that time “I want to run fast.”

    Cromwell worked diligently with Montgomery to increase her training regimen to six days a week and to running 40 miles a week. She then began to run indoor track, outdoor track and cross country. Montgomery’s hard work paid off handsomely, as during her senior year she won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 4A state cross country meet.

    One of the unique aspects of Montgomery’s affliction is when her body overheats due to exercise, she loses all feeling in her legs. As such, Cromwell or a teammate would have to “catch” her as she crossed the finish line of a race. Afterward, the team would ice her legs until the feeling returned to them.

    Today, Montgomery is a freshman at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a distance runner for the Bison.

About the Award

    The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

    Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.

    While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.