On Monday, May 20th, O’Neal hosted its annual JV/varsity sports recognition ceremony. Athletic Director James Franklin welcomed student-athletes and their families. He announced that O’Neal earned the Wells Fargo Cup, representing the NCISAA’s top athletic program among Division 2A schools. He also re-capped individual and team accolades for the school year.
A remarkable year included; Four coaches earned Conference Coach of the Year recognition and three coaches won NCISAA Coach of the Year for their given sport. Fifty-seven student-athletes earned Tri-TAC All Conference and seven student-athletes earned Tri-TAC Conference Player of the Year awards. Twenty-four student-athletes earned NCISAA All-State recognition and seven student-athletes were state champions as individuals – two of whom won multiple individual state championships.
Three teams won Tri-TAC runners up; six teams were Tri-TAC champions. Eleven of the fourteen varsity teams ended their season ranking among the top ten teams of the state or higher. Eight of those eleven teams competed to the “final four” of state competition. Three of those teams earned third place, two were state runners-up and three were crowned NCISAA champions.
In Coach Franklin’s opening remarks he also stated, “At the start of the year, we asked our student-athletes to, ‘play for the shirt’. In doing so, our student-athletes were encouraged to think about their athletic legacy at O’Neal and to set for themselves goals and work towards those goals so that when they leave their shirt at the end of the year, it is in a better place than when they found it at the start of the year. One thing that measures success is winning. It certainly isn’t the only measure we use, yet winning at O’Neal is a byproduct of focusing on developing the correct athletic habits. And we can proudly report our teams’ experienced successes all over the fields, courts, pools, courses and tracks. Our numbers don’t lie…”
O’Neal senior student-athletes thanked their parents for their time and commitment given to them and their achievements as O’Neal student-athletes. The seniors gave their parents an O’Neal blanket as a token of their appreciation. The senior-athletes also recognized Upper School Teacher Cindi Carr who is retiring after 35 years at O’Neal. Ms. Carr consistently attended O’Neal’s games in support of her students. In appreciation, she was given an award from the senior student-athletes. To follow, Head of School John Elmore also recognized Ms. Carr with a plaque that is placed at the School’s “Falcons’ Nest” sign.
Varsity Girls Basketball Coach and Director of Student Life Lulu Brase introduced the keynote speaker Nikki Flores. Ms. Flores is assistant coach for American University Women’s Basketball. Ms. Flores talked of her own college basketball career and her growth as an athlete and person from the failures and successes she experienced.
The head coach for each JV and varsity team presented the award for Most Improved Athlete, The Falcon Award (displaying spirit, character, team-first attitude) and Most Valuable Athlete.
Head of School John Elmore announced the annual awards. Female Student-Athlete of the Year is Hannah Burns, captain, all-conference and all-state member of the state champion varsity girls swim team. Bennett Moore is Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Bennett is varsity boys soccer captain, all-state and all-conference; varsity boys basketball captain and all-conference; state champion varsity boys tennis and state champion varsity boys golf and all-state. The Coach of the Year went to Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Matt McMurray. The Female Team of the Year was awarded to NCISAA runner up varsity girls track and field and the Male Team of the Year was awarded to NCISAA champions varsity boys tennis.
Head of Upper School Matt Jacobs recognized those student-athletes who participated in three sports during the 2018-2019 school year.