ELKIN - With 2012 coming to an end, The Tribune is looking back at the top stories of an incredible year in sports across the area.
The year saw handful of both heart-warming and heart-breaking stories that make sports special. Some players and teams tasted victory, while others came up a few yards or inches short of achieving their championship aspirations.
We take a look back.
Meme Brown’s Lasting Legacy
Nothing shook the community more than the tragic loss of former Starmount volleyball standout Meme Brown.
Brown, a four-year starter for the Lady Rams volleyball team, lost her courageous four-year battle with ovarian cancer, passing away at the age of 21 in October.
The current Starmount squad honored the former star with teal headbands, shoelaces and shirts (the color of ovarian cancer awareness) throughout the season and advanced to the fourth round of the 2A state playoffs while remembering Brown.
The lasting image of the season came just hours after Brown’s passing when the Lady Rams returned to the court against Alleghany on Oct. 16. The heavy-hearted squad swept the Trojans before a memorable, emotional interview with head coach Jon Symons.
“I’ve been a basket case all day, but I got to come out here for a few hours and do this, and it makes my life better because I know she enjoyed it. That’s what we do: we play volleyball,” Symons said after the match.
Christian Hurt’s Memorable Journey
From lying motionless on the field in Boonville to walking and smiling around town, Christian Hurt’s inspiring saga has had a little bit of everything.
The three-sport Starmount star’s journey from a broken neck to a delayed surgery in Germany has captivated the area as the community has rallied around the 18-year-old.
The community has nearly reached the $100,000 goal towards the Christian Hurt Medical Needs Fund in a little over a year as Hurt adjusts to life in a neck brace.
Hurt’s surgery has been delayed because of unexpected growth in his vertebrae in what he calls a “miracle in progress.”
Austin Macemore’s Courageous Fight
While his first battle with the cancer came as a child, former Starmount athlete Austin Macemore came face-to-face with the deadly disease again as a senior in high school.
Macemore was honored in a “Kicking for Austin Night” during Starmount’s soccer season but capped an emotional year with graduation and a tremendous award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Macemore walked in an emotional graduation ceremony in June, received praise from valedictorian Brinsley Stewart during her speech and received the “Heart of a Champion” award from the governing body of high school athletics.
The honor went to student-athletes who “demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship,” and for anyone who spent any amount of time with Macemore, knows no one embodies the award more than him.
Macemore is currently still fighting his second bout with cancer.
Landon Walker’s Fight for his Life
After more than a year since a horrific ATV accident, former East Wilkes football player Landon Walker is still fighting for his life.
Walker suffered head and facial injuries in the accident and remains hospitalized while he fights for his life.
A Facebook page “Pray for Landon Walker” has over 2,100 “likes” as of publication and is updated several times a week by Walker’s family, with posts such as “God is good!”
Millsaps, Welborn and Macy Capture State Titles
Three area athletes captured state titles in the spring in their respective sports.
Elkin’s Zach Millsaps raced his way to the 800 meter state championship, while Tyler Macy was crowned the 1A state champion in tennis. Starmount’s Hunter Welborn jumped her way to the 2A high jump title.
All three newly-crowned state champions tasted glory after coming up just short the previous year in true redemption stories.
Hoop Squads End Playoff Droughts
The Elkin boys and Starmount girls ended long playoff droughts with big postseason victories in February.
The Buckin’ Elks knocked off River Mill Academy in the opening round of the 1A state playoffs, while the Lady Rams edged Carver in the first round of the 2A postseason.
Both droughts were so long that neither Elkin head coach Kenneth Abrams or former Starmount skipper Scott Blackburn could recall the last time each program won a playoff game.
Emi Loving’s Trip Across the Pond
Elkin senior Emi Loving took a trip of a lifetime when she headed to Liverpool, England over the summer for a weekend cheerleading showcase.
Loving, a member of Kernersville’s Cheer Extreme Coed Elite squad, received “celebrity-like treatment” in England, while preforming a showcase routine across the pond.
In an interview after her return, Loving repeated one word over and over - “amazing.”
Three-Peat for Forbush Cheerleaders
The Forbush cheerleading squad completed an unprecedented three-peat in March when the Lady Falcons captured their third-straight varsity non-tumble division national championship in Myrtle Beach.
The national championship capped Forbush’s unbelievable three-year run at the High School Nationals Cheer Competition and was the teams’ fourth title of the season.
Looking Ahead to 2013
While 2012 was a memorable year in sports around the area, there are several special stories to keep an eye on as we flip the calender page to 2013.
The Buckin’ Elks and their “Fab 4” (Sam Lane, Frank Miller, Chris Hudspeth and Trey King) are rolling through the Mountain Valley Conference on the hardwood and sit atop the conference standings heading into the new year with their sights set on a state title.
Christian Hurt’s journey will take another step as another MRI will reveal if the vertebrae will heal itself or if surgery is required.
And finally, spring sports will allow a new crop of local athletes to try and make a name for themselves while guiding their teams to championship glory.
No matter where the games will be played, The Tribune will be there to document the sports stories in the new year.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.