CHAPEL HILL—A total of 19 student-athletes from North Carolina High School Athletic Association member schools have been selected as winners of the “Heart of a Champion” Award for their outstanding sportsmanship, overcoming adversity, and consistently going above and beyond expectations.
The recognition is part of the program offered by the NCHSAA Student Services Division. NC Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company sponsors these awards.
Each of the NCHSAA member schools had the opportunity to nominate one male and one female student-athlete for the recognition. The students must have participated in at least one varsity sport or activity, including cheerleading, during the 2020-2021 school year, have not been ejected from any contest, and must have demonstrated outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship during their high school careers.
The students filled out an application questionnaire, and then a school official, such as the principal or athletic director, also provided an evaluation.
“We appreciate the continued partnership with our friends at the North Carolina Farm Bureau,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “We are honored to join with Farm Bureau in recognizing this group of 19 student-athletes who have consistently demonstrated the values and traits that we want all student-athletes to learn through participation in our programs. Now, more than any other time, our society needs young people, like this group of award winners, who exhibit what it means to have the ‘heart of a champion' and who are dedicated to excellence in all things.”
2022 Winner Information
Jaylen Alexander-Raynor, a senior at East Forsyth High School, competed in two varsity sports, gave back to his community through several projects, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He enhanced his collaboration and cooperation skills through team play, working with teammates toward a common goal. He was vocal in supporting and leading his teammates in practice and on the field. Admiring Michael Jordan, he pushed himself to be the best version of himself, display a winning attitude, and refine an incredible work ethic.
Jacob Beamon, a senior at Greene Central High School, played three varsity sports, was a State Qualifier, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He was identified by his coach as “a lead-by-example type of player/person”. Jacob focused on leading and guiding underclassmen toward the positive outcomes of playing sports and away from the negative effects of ATOD abuse. He looks up to his grandfather who taught him “how to be a good worker and to persevere through adversity”.
Jmya Frazier, a senior at Eastern Guildford High School, was a Scholar Athlete in cheerleading all four years of her high school career and was a member of the NCHSAA State Champion Cheer Squad for four years. Her coach noted “Jmya has a calming yet determined approach when we are getting ready to compete. She is the teammate that others look to for reassurance and guidance”. Cheerleading helped Jeremiah realize that she is capable of doing whatever she sets her mind to and that she is stronger mentally and physically than she ever gave herself credit for. Cheerleading taught her how to be “all in” - giving her all for those around her.
McKinsey Harper, a senior at Greene Central High School, played three varsity sports, volunteered with Special Olympics on many occasions, and was inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. She served as a role model to her teammates and high school peers. McKinsey’s coach noted “she is a leader on and off the court”. McKinsey credits her dad with teaching her the value of teamwork and finishing what she starts. Her sports experience enabled McKinsey to lose with grace and have fun in stressful situations.
Bailey Huff, a student-athlete at Reagan High School, participated in two varsity sports, was active in the Girl Scouts (working on her gold award project), and was a member of the Crosby Scholar Program. Bailey’s participation in sports enhanced her social skills and promoted good leadership skills. Her coach shares, “Bailey consistently works hard and leads by example. Her relentless effort serves as a model for her teammates”. Bailey admires her coaches because they push her to be the very best athlete and person she can be, on and off the field.
Latecyia Keyanna Johnson, a junior at East Carteret High School, played three varsity sports, was the 1A State Long Jump Champion, and was a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member. The leadership skills she developed came in handy in her extensive work with the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastal Plain. Athletics taught Latecyia to push herself and become better at setting goals, promoting teamwork, and managing her time. Developing these skills, while participating in athletics, allowed Latecyia to excel academically.
Shaelyn Johnson, a freshman student-athlete at Weldon High School, participated in three varsity sports, the Girl Scouts, and was named to the Honor Roll, Principal’s List. Her coach says she is “the ideal scholar athlete”, demonstrating outstanding leadership while maintaining a clear sense of purpose. Shaelyn admires her mother for inspiring her to follow her dreams and never give up.
Anneke Lam, a senior at Tuscola High School, participated in three varsity sports, was a member of several clubs, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. She capitalized on her positive energy by being a constant source of leadership, support, and enthusiasm during each sport season. Anneke learned a sense of community from folks in her town, most importantly – aiding people around her. She creates that kind of supportive and enthusiastic community in all she does.
Thomas McComb, a senior at Elkin High School, was a five-sport varsity student-athlete, participated in five school clubs, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. In his quest to help underclassmen find ways to have fun, spend time safely ATOD-free, Thomas founded and became president of the Mountain Biking Club. According to Thomas, sports participation was instrumental in developing skills that would be crucial to succeeding in life – proper work ethic, adaptability, dependability, confidence, and respect – just to name a few.
James Miller, a senior at Greene Central High School, participated in varsity tennis all four years of his high school career, was a member of the STEM program and BETA club, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Additionally, after COVID, James recorded an undefeated 22-0 season for the number one ranked tennis team in the State. His sport experience helped him gain confidence and the strength to tackle any obstacle put in his way. His coach recalls James cheering his teammates as a freshman, as he worked his way into the lineup; then, as a senior, encouraging newcomers as a team leader.
McGuire Owen, a student-athlete at West Rowan High School, played varsity golf, leading his team to a regional qualification after suffering an injury which led to a two-week hospital stay. McGuire learned perseverance from playing an individual sport and from his second-generation farmer grandfather who works long hours during harvest season. He applied the valuable lesson of perseverance to his golf game – “one bad round or shot doesn’t change the outcome . . . never give up, persevere”. McGuire also gained confidence in his ability, and in himself, through his participation on the links.
Jimmie “Jim Bo” Parrish, a student-athlete at John A. Holmes High School, played in three junior varsity and three varsity sports and was a member of the NC Breakers AAU Basketball Team. He admires and is appreciative of his football coaches for instilling the motto – “Do it right, or don’t do it at all”. Jim Bo learned commitment and dedication from his coaches and looked to them as role models before eventually becoming a good man, a good husband, and a good father. His participation in sports helped him learn not to quit when struggling or things just weren’t going right.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Proctor, a senior at Bartlett Yancey High School, participated in two varsity sports, varied activities outside of school, and was in the Fast Track Program (with a dual enrollment at Piedmont Community College), graduating with an Associate Degree in Science, along with her high school diploma. Lizzie demonstrated leadership, was a role model and motivator to all, including her coach. Offering support and encouragement to others through her words and example, she went above and beyond to accomplish her goals.
Bailey Rinehart, a junior at John A. Holmes High School, participated in three varsity sports, student government, and numerous clubs and activities. She credits experiences in individual and team sports with guiding her to become the person she is today. Bailey learned “mind over matter” during challenging times and vital communication skills. Her work with the Herren Project Club inspired her to encourage others to fulfil the club’s motto of “Go Healthy” – living drug- and alcohol-free.
Bethany Rymer, a senior at South Rowan High School, participated in four varsity sports, completed Army Basic Training (will complete Army Medic Training this summer), and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Her coach described Bethany as a leader on every team, supporting, encouraging, and pushing them to better themselves in sports and in life. According to Bethany, she developed mental and physical toughness, playing through anxiety, and tackling life challenges. She learned to win and lose with grace. She says her dad is the perfect example of what true integrity looks like.
Karsen Simpson, a student-athlete at West Rowan High School, was a two-sport varsity student-athlete, served in the Student Council and FCA, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Enduring physical challenges from birth and fighting through pain while training, Karsen learned the concept of perseverance. According to her athletic director, she “doesn’t know the meaning of ‘quit’!” Through team play, Karsen learned to not only listen, but to value other’s opinions.
Ty Turbyfill, a student-athlete at Mitchell High School, participated in three varsity sports, volunteered with the Mitchell County Special Olympics, and was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the State Championship Game. He attributes his success in the classroom to the hard work ethic he developed playing sports. Ty led by example on and off the field. He encouraged and supported his teammates with positive words and an exemplary work ethic, according to his coach. Ty is appreciative of the sacrifices his parents have made for their family and of his grandfather’s unselfish and compassionate qualities.
Dylan Wall, a senior at Bartlett Yancey High School, participated on two varsity teams, was a recipient of a Scholar Athlete award, and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Being dually enrolled, Dylan received his Associate Degree along with his high school diploma. He is the first college graduate in his family. To give back to his community, Dylan helped with the revitalization of the local library. His coaches were impressed with his poise and great pride when suffering defeat. He used those experiences to take on the next challenges in life. He motivated his teammates to learn from their mistakes and do better in the next event. When on the sidelines, he was everyone’s biggest cheerleader.
Carson Weber, a senior at Myers Park High School, participated in two varsity sports, partnered with local fire and police departments to identify, and serve families in need, and was inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Science Honor Society. She was recognized as an All-Conference, All-Region, and All-State tennis player. Carson led by example and had the respect of her entire team, so when she spoke, her teammates listened. Following three tragic, alcohol-related deaths that personally affected Carson, she made a pact with her parents that, in her words, “I am always able to pick up friends that need a safe ride home, even if it is past my curfew. My parents understand how these deaths have affected my community, and even more so, me”.