Two Owen athletes score Sunshine Scholarships

Brock Pressley and Lindsey Slone get a helping hand from the golf community

Fred McCormick

Two local high school students will get help with college from money raised from the annual Owen Golf Team Tournament in March.

Lindsey Slone and Brock Pressley are this year’s recipients of the Sunshine Golf Scholarship, named for Connie “Sunshine” Knight, the wife of former Owen High School golf coach John Knight.

Knight coached the Warhorses golf team for 26 years, during his time as a speech therapist for the Owen school district. He started a Warlassies golf team in 1998, the first girls golf team in Buncombe County.

Brock Pressley and Lindsey Slone were each given a check for $1,000 by Connie "Sunshine" Knight at the Black Mountain Golf Course on May 8.

In 1996, as a means of raising money for his golf team, Knight held the first Owen Golf Team Tournament at the Black Mountain Golf Course. The response from the community was good. The annual tournament supported the golf programs at the school until Knight retired in 2013.

“The coach who took over after me didn’t really have an interest in taking over the tournament,” Knight said. “But people were still calling me wanting to know if it would be happening again, so I decided to keep having it.”

With the help of his wife, Knight continued the tradition of using the tournament proceeds to support the school’s golf programs. After retiring in 2013, he decided to honor Sunshine, who was diagnosed with (and survived) beast cancer that year.

“With her nickname being ‘Sunshine,’ I came up with the idea for the ‘Sunshine Golf Scholarship,’” he said.

Owen senior Brock Pressley, left, plays a round at the Black Mountain Golf Course on March 23.

The tournament, which takes place the first weekend each March (weather permitting), has gottenmore popular over its 21-year history, according to Knight. Last year 100 golfers took to the greens, raising around $3,500, of which a little under $1,500 was given to the boys team at Owen (the school did not field a girls’ golf team this season, though junior Kendal Marlowe played with the Warhorses in the spring).

The remaining $2,000 was made available to a male and female athlete from the school who had plans to go to college. Students interested in the scholarship must write an essay on how the money will help them.

Pressley, who has played golf for the school since his freshman year, hopes to pursue a career related to sports. “I’m looking at different fields,” he said. “Anything from sports medicine to sports management because I love sports.”

Pressley plans to attend Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College before transferring to a four-year institution.

Slone, who has played soccer and ran cross country for the Warlassies, plans to study computer science at UNC Asheville. She plans to pursue a career in genetics.

Lindsey Slone, left, works against a Mountain Heritage defender at an Owen home game on March 30

Like many students, Slone will likely need to hold down a job during college. So she was thankful for the Sunshine Scholarship this year.

“This is definitely helpful,” she said. "It will help me pay my enrollment fee, and that really helps.”