The Tony Simeon Courage Awards are designed to honor individuals who, despite adversity, have demonstrated exemplary character and performance. As a result of their strength and character, these individuals have been an inspiration to all those involved in the programs of the NCHSAA. These awards are named in honor of NCHSAA hall of famer, Tony Simeon, a long-time coach at High Point Central.
VARNER SINK, HEAD MEN'S TENNIS COACH, LEXINGTON SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Ronnie Beverly, the athletic director for Lexington wrote the following to describe Coach Sink. “Coach Sink is an incredible tennis coach with tons of knowledge of the game. He has taken a group of young men that had very little tennis training and helped them achieve the goal of being a top contender in the Central Carolina Conference. The thing that sets coach sink apart is his ability to coach life. Varner has been battling cancer the last year, undergoing bi-weekly treatments of chemo and radiation. Rather than allowing his nausea and fatigue to keep him away from practices and matches, he pushes himself through this tough time and continues coaching and playing with his team. At times, he even plays against them one-on-one, giving them pointers and various tips to help improve their game. During these moments, he also teaches them about how precious life really is, and to seize the moment.
We’ve seen Varner come from a chemo treatment straight to a tennis practice or match, never once complaining. The young men on the team and the parents are all amazed at how he pushes through and does so much with a great attitude. Even while feeling a little icky, he still shows great spirit, pride and sportsmanship to all opponents and guests who visit our tennis center.”
MONIQUE GIDREY, HEAD WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH, JACKSONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
Coach Gidrey’s Jacksonville Cardinals won the NCHSAA Eastern Regional for the first time in school history, making the school’s first women’s basketball appearance in an NCHSAA state championship. They finished the season 23-4, but that’s not the best picture of this coach’s triumph this year.
Coach Gidrey married her high school sweetheart, and the couple has been married for 21 years. However, in 2009, her husband, Jason, who played basketball at Jacksonville High School and Mount Olive was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. On January 30th, Coach Gidrey and the Cardinals were scheduled to play at White Oak. That day, she received a call informing her that her husband had been matched with a heart transplant, and the surgery would happen that day. Then she received a text from her husband saying he was headed into surgery.
By the time she got there, Jason was already in surgery, so she waited for the nine-hour long surgical transplant to end, and the surgery was successful. Jason had a new heart, but a long road of recovery ahead. Coach Gidrey spent the remainder of the season driving to Chapel Hill at least twice a week to see Jason, a 2.5 hour drive, much of that time driving spent talking to her assistant coaches. Though she admittedly missed a practice or two, she pressed on and was there for her team.
Her team pulled together, played for coach and her husband, and each other, and made it all the way to the 3A state title game before falling to Northern Guilford. But her players all told the Jacksonville Daily News how much stronger Coach Gidrey’s story and perseverance made them. Just a few days after that state championship game, Coach Gidrey was able to bring her husband Jason home from the hospital, about two months after his transplant.