HENDERSON — With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing problems in North Carolina and the rest of the United States, Vance County High School elected to present end-of-year awards to student athletes on Friday in a manner that abided by social distancing guidelines.

Athletic Director Joe Sharrow had wanted to honor the students during the school’s annual athletic banquet and was optimistic that it would still take place despite the pandemic, but an increase in COVID-19 cases prevented the ceremony from taking place in its usual manner.

“We felt like our athletes deserved the recognition that they normally would get,” Sharrow said. “Our athletic banquet is how we recognize athletes not only for their achievements on the court or the field, but also in the classroom, and that’s really important to us.”

With the banquet canceled, Sharrow and the rest of the Vance County staff had to quickly come up with an alternative to celebrate the accomplishments of the school’s student athletes before the seniors departed for college.

They eventually settled on a form of awards distribution that allowed Sharrow and the staff to interact with students in a safe way. The ceremony involved students receiving their awards from the staff before subsequently having their photos taken in front of a backdrop.

Nearly five dozen student athletes from Vance County received awards for their contributions during the 2019-20 school year, with Samein Burwell and Emani Foster earning the Athlete of the Year award for men and women, respectively.

As quarterback of Vance County’s football team, Burwell led the team to its first postseason appearance with a 9-3 record after throwing for 2,739 yards and scoring 40 touchdowns, 33 of them through the air and the other seven were on the ground.

Burwell was also a primary contributor for Vance County’s men’s basketball program during both years of its existence, averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

In volleyball, Foster supplied the core of Vance County’s success, setting multiple N.C. High School Athletic Association records during her junior year in 2018 by registering 649 kills, 57 kills in one match and an average of 24.04 kills per match.

Foster leaves Vance County as the all-time NCHSAA record holder in kills with 2,040, and she will look to continue her success on the court later this year when she joins UNC Charlotte’s volleyball program.

Sharrow is proud of all the accomplishments that Foster, Burwell and so many others obtained during the 2019-20 season, and hopes the departing seniors and the returning students continue to build on those positives and remain great ambassadors for Vance County athletics.

“I really hate how the year ended for the Class of 2020,” Sharrow said. “They were a very special group and this was a very successful athletic season. We have those individuals to thank for that and I wish all of those kids the best.”

A full list of awards can be found below.

Athlete of the YearEmani Foster (Female)

Samein Burwell (Male)

The Viper AwardNoah Terry (Male)

Leslie Zuniga-Trejo (Female)

Coach of the YearChristopher Andrews (Swimming)

Sportsmanship AwardWomen’s Soccer Team

FootballMost Valuable Player: Noah Terry

Extra Effort Award: Macon Davis

Most Improved Player: Zachary Willard

Pepsi Cola Award: William Hawkins

Jerald Hunter Golden Helmet Award: Daunta Wimbush

Offensive Player of the Year: Samein Burwell and Phadol Jordan

Defensive Player of the Year: Malik Williams and Ta’Quon Lyons

JV Outstanding Contributor: Israel Terry and Keyon Tunstall

Cross CountryMost Valuable Player: Leslie Zuniga-Trejo

Extra Effort Award: Jessica Zuniga-Trejo

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Ruby Zuniga-Trejo

VolleyballMost Valuable Player: Emani Foster

Extra Effort Award: Kynnedy Keel

Pepsi Cola Award: Emani Foster

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Malia Simmons

JV Outstanding Contributor: Madison Ayscue

Women’s TennisMost Valuable Player: Payton Rainey

Extra Effort Award: Angel Durham

Pepsi Cola Award: Ashley Zuniga

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Tashanta Bryant

Men’s SoccerMost Valuable Player: Jesus Zuniga

Extra Effort Award: Miguel Garcia

Pepsi Cola Award: Diego Vasquez

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Adrian Aguilera

Cheerleading (Fall)Most Valuable Player: Tania Hunter

Extra Effort Award: Tamia Alston

Pepsi Cola Award: Tamia Hunter

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Amari Bennerson

JV Outstanding Contributor: Shaniya Terry

Men’s BasketballMost Valuable Player: Phadol Jordan

Extra Effort Award: Thomas Townes

Pepsi Cola Award: Tre’Quan Archie

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Samein Burwell

JV Outstanding Contributor: Jaylen Fields

Women’s BasketballMost Valuable Player: Nashiya Branch

Extra Effort Award: Alexis Mims

Pepsi Cola Award: Tymiah Wimbush

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Yumyah Hargrove

JV Outstanding Contributor: KiAzia Cheek

Men’s SwimmingMost Valuable Player: Kristich Juengling

Extra Effort Award: Jorge Gomez

Pepsi Cola Award: Kristich Juengling

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Christian Green

Women’s SwimmingMost Valuable Player: Clarissa Juengling

Extra Effort Award: Eiley Cook

Pepsi Cola Award: Daniella Decena

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Daniella Decena

WrestlingMost Valuable Player: Kristophe’ Burwell

Extra Effort Award: Trevon McLean

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Semaj Jones

Cheerleading (Winter)Most Valuable Player: Dinah Baldwin

Extra Effort Award: Keynia Kingsberry

Pepsi Cola Award: Tamia Alston

The Athlete’s Foot Award: Keynia Kingsberry

JV Outstanding Contributor: Tahya Johnson

Women’s GolfMost Valuable Player: Mia Rojo-Estrada

Women’s Soccer SeniorsMaria Guzman

Angela Bolonos

Stephanie Melgar

Taliya Lewis

Baseball SeniorsNoah Terry

Payton Heath

Trayshawn Macon

Softball SeniorsRielly Wortham

Kyra Mitchell

Adison Evans

Brayden Patterson

Track SeniorLeslie Zuniga-Trejo