Students achieve Bryant-Jordan recognition
Four local student-athletes were recognized by the Bryant-Jordan Foundation for their accomplishments and achievements this past week. Belgreen’s Bailey Oliver and Russellville’s Lily Pounders were academic winners. Belgreen’s Emma Dempsey and Tharptown’s Hayden Moss were achievement winners.
Pounders was awarded the Class 5A Region 7 Scholar-Athlete Award. Pounders is the valedictorian of the Russellville senior class of 187 students and president of the RHS National Honor Society. She was a member of the Russellville High School cheerleader squad and earned UCA All-American honors.
“I am very humbled, honored and extremely grateful for all the individuals who have coached, encouraged and taught me throughout my high school journey,” said Pounders. “Cheering every year from sixth grade to my senior year has not only benefited me physically but has also taught me to be dedicated, to be willing to put in the work necessary to improve the team and to remain optimistic in difficult circumstances.”
Pounders said she plans to attend Auburn University and enter the pre-medicine program.
Her parents are Jeff and Paula Pounders.
Moss was awarded the Class 2A Region 7 Achievement Award.
Moss missed most of his high school basketball career because of two torn ACLs. He tore his left ACL the summer before his junior year, causing him to miss well over half of his junior season. Ten games into his senior year, his career was ended from tearing his right ACL.
Moss also lost three grandparents in a 20-month time period from August 2018-2020. He finished sixth in his class and will have completed a semester of college by graduation. Moss was voted by his senior class as Most Dependable.
“It is a blessing to be able to receive this award,” said Moss, “but it came at a high price. I would gladly give it up to get back what I lost.
“I always knew the day would come that high school sports would end. I just didn’t want it to come so quick. But, like all good things, part of the journey is the end.
“I know there is a reason for everything,” he added. “I hope someday I can use my setbacks to help others.”
Moss said he plans to attend Northwest-Shoals Community College before transferring to Auburn University. He is still deciding on a career path among business management, finance, or education and coaching.
His parents are Bart and Amy Moss.
Oliver was awarded the Class 1A Region 7 Scholar-Athlete Award. Oliver is the salutatorian of the Belgreen Class of 2021. She has been accepted into the UNA Honors College and was voted by her senior class as Most Likely to Succeed.
Oliver has been a member of the Belgreen volleyball team from the seventh grade through her senior year. She was this team captain this year.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for both my academic and athletic achievements,” said Oliver. “Being an athlete has taught me from a young age the importance of hard work, commitment and teamwork. I am grateful for my teachers, coaches and teammates who have always supported me and pushed me to succeed.”
Oliver said she plans to attend UNA in the fall and major in Biomedical Science and pursue a career in the medical field. Her parents are Shannon and Tara Oliver.
Dempsey was awarded the Class 1A Region 7 Achievement Award.
Diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at the age of 10, Dempsey had to undergo a dangerous eight-hour surgery that could have left her paralyzed. She continues to live with two long rods in her back.
Despite this, Dempsey has succeeded in athletics. She made the 2020 North-South teams for both basketball and softball. She will finish seventh in her class at Belgreen.
“It is such an honor to be chosen for this award,” said Dempsey. “I wasn’t even going to apply for it, but Coach Susie (Tverberg) told me to. She has helped me with so much more than just softball. I have learned so much from high school athletics. I’ve learned what it means to play for something bigger than yourself.”
Dempsey said she plans to attend Northeast Mississippi Community College to continue playing softball. She plans to become a neonatal nurse.
Her parents are Terry Dempsey and Kristi Tooley.
Each student receives a $3,000 scholarship and will attend a banquet in Birmingham in April with a chance to win their overall class award and the overall state award.
The Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Award honors high school seniors who are both superior athletes and outstanding students.
The Bryant-Jordan Achievement Award honors high school senior student-athletes who have achieved success relative to their ability or who have overcome an unusual hardship.
The Bryant-Jordan Foundation is named after legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and legendary Auburn coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan.