Owen duo receives Sunshine Scholarship

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
Noah Moore and Shelby Ballard each receive $1,400 from Connie "Sunshine" Knight at the Black Mountain Golf Course. The Owen High School student-athletes were selected to receive this year's Sunshine Scholarship.

In the final days of their high school careers, many Owen High School seniors are looking forward to their pursuit of a college education. 

A pair of student-athletes received some help toward that endeavor at Black Mountain Golf Course on May 10, when they were presented with checks from the Sunshine Scholarship. 

Noah Moore and Shelby Ballard were each presented $1,400 by Connie "Sunshine" Knight and her husband, former Owen golf coach John, who established the annual scholarship in 2013. 

"We do a tournament at the Black Mountain Golf Course every year, and they've been very supportive," Knight said. "We had over 25 local businesses support it this year and a lot of the people who participate have been playing in the tournament for years."

The tournament was originally held to raise money for the golf program at Owen, but when John retired from coaching following his wife's breast cancer diagnosis in 2013, he continued organizing the tournament as a way to help members of the golf team with college expenses. 

"We used to give the scholarships to members of the girls and boys golf teams," he said. "But Owen hasn't had a golf team in a couple of years so we select one male and female athlete from the school."

This year's tournament, which was held March 2, featured 100 golfers and a raffle offering prizes from participating businesses. 

Student-athletes interested in the Sunshine Scholarship are asked to submit essays outlining how the funds can help them as they pursue their college education. 

Moore was a member of the varsity Warhorse basketball team for four seasons, and finished his career with exactly 1,000 points. He hopes to continue to playing at the next level. 

"I watched Noah play his entire career at Owen," John said. "He's an exciting player and a good person. He wants to play at the next level and hopefully this scholarship will help him with that goal."

Ballard played volleyball for the Warlassies and was a golfer at Owen Middle School. 

"I've known Shelby for a long time," John said. "If the high school had a golf team this season she certainly would've been on it. Her father was the head pro at the Black Mountain Golf Course for a lot of the years I coached at Owen."

Every year, John and his wife meet the Sunshine Scholarship recipients at the golf course to present them with their checks. 

"We really enjoy doing this," John said. "We're happy to do this every year, it's a great way to support our student-athletes who work so hard."