Student athletes are worth supporting

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Last week’s edition of the Beacon featured a story about West Brunswick High School senior Meg Fletcher, a state finalist in the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award competition. Award applicants are judged on their academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, community leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities, among other criteria. Fletcher maintains a grade point average higher than 4.0 while participating — and excelling — at many sports. She even helped institute her school’s swim team.

South Brunswick High School senior Ashley Sloup’s name has graced our sports pages many times during the course of her high school career. Last month, we reported she signed a letter of intent to accept a golf scholarship to attend Winthrop University. Sloup played many sports before concentrating on golf and is one of the best high school golfers in the state, but she also is a gifted student.

In August, we published a story about Ocean Isle Beach native Nick Rupp, who captured the men’s individual title at the National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championships in Dana Point, Calif., this past summer. The UNC-Wilmington sophomore, captain of the Seahawks’ team, captured the second individual title for UNCW in the last four years. He has spoken about how important it is to him to earn his college degree.

Regardless of whether they go on to become professional athletes, Fletcher, Sloup and Rupp make Brunswick County proud.

They are just three of the many hardworking student athletes representing our community day in and day out.

Participating in sports reinforces the values of discipline, teamwork, leadership and responsibility, as well as develops confidence, in students. It provides them with an outlet for their energy and establishes fitness routines, which are as important as ever. It also supplements the education they receive on fundamental academic subjects that ultimately help them choose their careers.

Their parents are their biggest fans — and rightly so — but there are many ways other members of the community can champion them, as well. Volunteer to be a coach or tutor. Organize and take part in fundraisers to help pay for their uniforms, equipment and travel. Show up for games and matches to cheer them on. School spirit does not have to be confined to the schools.

Student athletes deserve our support, on and off the field, or court, or course, or water. With our continued support, we can expect great things from them in the future.