BOONVILLE - For someone small in stature, recent Starmount graduate Austin Macemore may have the biggest heart.
While many in the Ram community already know this, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association recently took notice.
The governing body of high school athletics selected Macemore as a recipient of their “Heart of a Champion” award earlier this month, recognizing student-athletes who “demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship.”
“It just means that I’m very, very blessed,” Macemore explained. “Only 20 people in the state of North Carolina get this award every year. It shows my determination, integrity and all of the qualities I have.”
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 during the 2011-12 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.
Starmount athletic director Scott Carter backed Macemore, a former soccer player and wrestler for the Rams, in the process.
“He’s a great guy, and I appreciate him doing this for me,” Macemore said. “It wouldn’t even have been possible without him because I had no idea about this award.”
While preparing to head to Surry Community College in the fall for school - or “the University of North Carolina at Dobson,” as he quipped - Macemore is in the midst of a grueling six-and-a-half week stretch of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I have to do chemo and radiation for six and a half weeks, and I just started last week,” he explained. “Every Monday I have chemo and radiation and then Tuesday-Friday I have just radiation.
“It’s crazy; I didn’t know it would be this tough,” Macemore continued. “But I’ll get through it like usual.”
Despite chemo and radiation, the recent grad is in high spirits.
“I’m losing my appetite and I feel week on chemo days,” he said. “But I’m happy and doing everything that people said I wouldn’t be able to do; proving them wrong.
“I already went to the gym today and lifted,” Macemore added, laughing. “I’m just taking it day by day.”
The sportsmanship recognition of the award is part of a program offered by the NCHSAA Student Services Division and is sponsored by the North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. Mark Dreibelbis, NCHSAA assistant commissioner, and assistant director for student services Chiquana Dancy administer the program.
“We are proud of the achievements of this select group of student-athletes,” NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield said. “With recognitions such as these, we are continuing our emphasis on sportsmanship and the important lessons high school athletics teach.”
The students were honored at a luncheon on June 9 at the Radisson Governors’ Inn in the Research Triangle Park. North Wilkes’ student-athletes Lance Byrd and Brenna Roberson were also recognized.
While going through one of the toughest times of his life, Macemore says he appreciates the support he has received from the community.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me through the years,” he said.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.