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Stars on and off the field

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
Franklin County has an abundance of talented athletes who help their teams to victory and earn recognition for their accomplishments through awards such as player of the week honors and athletic scholarships, or the attention that comes with routinely finding the end zone on Friday nights or serving up aces in a volleyball match.
But there are also student-athletes who provide leadership on and off the field, and that is often hard to quantify with scoring statistics and television highlight reels.
A few weeks ago the Franklin County Times reconvened its editorial board, which is made up local residents who represent the communities in this county. The purpose of the board is to provide constructive feedback and make suggestions to our staff. One board member made a specific request – she asked us to run a weekly feature that recognizes student-athletes.
This was something that I had been meaning to do after seeing a similar feature in another newspaper, and since cheerleading, volleyball, football and cross-country were in full swing, I thought her suggestion was timely.
So after talking to guidance counselors throughout the county and city school systems, we started spotlighting a "Franklin County Times Scholar-Athlete of the Week," which runs in the sports section on Fridays.
This began three weeks ago, and it will continue through May 9. Every junior high school and high school in the county and city schools systems in Franklin County will be part of an alphabetical rotation, which means that Belgreen, East Franklin, Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Russellville Middle School, Russellville HighiSchool, Tharptown and Vina will each have four scholar-athlete winners for the 2007-08 school year.
The student featured each week is not necessarily the school's best athlete. Instead, he or she is chosen by the school's staff – usually the guidance counselor – based on a variety of criteria, including academics, citizenship and athletics.
In the past three weeks I have interviewed a five-sport eighth-grader from Belgreen, a basketball freshman from East Franklin and a senior cheerleader from Phil Campbell. All three of them have unique personalities and interests, but they are all highly motivated student-athletes with winning attitudes and abilities.
There are a lot of negative stories that dampen college and professional sports, and high school sports aren't immune from that trend – see Hoover High School – but stories like these can show that working hard in the classroom and on the practice field also merits attention.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at kim.west@fct.wpengine.com or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.

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