By Jeff Nations
It may seem that when Doug Stanley and his fellow members of the Rotary Club of Front Royal started bandying about criteria for the organization's newly established Student-Athlete of the Year Awards, they were loathe to actually hand out the hardware.
The bar, after all, is imposingly high to clear. To claim the inaugural awards, eligible teens from Skyline or Warren County high schools had to have accomplished the following:
• Excelled in athletics;
• Excelled in academics;
• Made an impact on the Front Royal-Warren County community;
• Demonstrated high ethical standards.
Simply to be eligible for nomination by one of the county's public high school athletic directors, prospective honorees "shall have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in athletics in individual or team sports and have made a lasting contribution to their school and the Front Royal-Warren County community."
Last Friday, the Rotary Club revealed two who have done just that, naming Warren County's Tyler Post the 2013 John K. Marlow Student-Athlete Award winner and Warren County's Kayla Gibbons as the 2013 Heidi Noel Moore Student-Athlete Award winner.
"The way we set it up, we had the athletic directors at the two high schools make a recommendation for each award," said Stanley, who co-chairs the Rotary Club's Award Committee. "Our committee interviewed the candidates, and all four were excellent candidates."
Post, a four-year letter winner in both football and baseball, served as team captain his senior year in both sports and was also a captain in football during his junior season. Post, the Wildcats' quarterback, was named the Evergreen District's Offensive Player of the Year this past season as well as the team's Most Valuable Player. In baseball, he earned all-Evergreen honors as both a shortstop and utility player. Post, who finished with an overall grade-point average of 3.79, also stayed active in community service and was widely recognized as a leader in the school community. He'll be attending Bridgewater College in the fall.
Gibbons, a true multi-sport athlete who competed in cross country, basketball, indoor and outdoor track and field, and soccer at Warren County, made her biggest mark as a runner. She served as team captain in cross country and was the team's MVP as a freshman, sophomore and junior. She won the school's Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year Award as a freshman. A member of the National Honor Society, Gibbons has donated her time in support of blood drives, Diabetes Walk, as an aide at the Blue Ridge Technical Center, with the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and through numerous other volunteer opportunities. Kayla and her twin sister, Kelsey, will attend Penn State this fall.
"They're both so well-rounded," Stanley said. "They're great people, not just great student-athletes."
The male award is named for John Marlow, a 1957 Warren County graduate and member of the undefeated 1956 football team. Marlow once held the school record in boys basketball for career scoring and was a district champion in the discus as a track and field athlete. Marlow went on to earn three letters in football and track at the University of Virginia. After college, he returned to Front Royal to lead Marlow Motors. He was elected to the Warren County Board of Supervisors in 1968 and served as chairman from 1974 to 1978. Marlow was Front Royal's mayor from 1982 to 1990.
Heidi Moore, the namesake for the female award, was a 1999 Warren County graduate. She held school records in six individual track and field events and set the Northwestern District triple jump record. A 12-time all-Northwestern District, seven-time all-Region II and five-time all-state honoree, Moore was named Warren County's Most Outstanding Girls Track and Field Performer three straight years (1997-1999) and twice was captain of the girls track and field team. Moore was also named the AFLAC Most Outstanding Athlete and the Elks Student of the Year in 1999 and was the school's prom queen that year. She earned undergraduate and master's degrees at James Madison University. Moore died in 2009 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Stanley said he hopes the annual honors will build momentum as scholarship awards. No money was given out this year, but that could change as early as next year.
"We're just hoping over the years it continues to grow," Stanley said. "We need to reach $5,000 within five years, and we're already at $3,000. On a personal level, I hope to see the amount grow significantly from that."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>