Athletes of the Year: West Rowan’s Steele, North Rowan’s West honored
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — Know when you’re the most famous athletes in the county? When no one has to refer to you by anything other than your first name.
Say Shay, as in West Rowan’s Steele.
Say Oshon, as in North Rowan’s West.
The first names of the two seniors are now associated with the 2013 Rowan County Athlete of the Year trophies.
And as all Athletes of the Year, both are confident in their abilities.
We put a football in Shay’s hands and asked if she could beat Oshon, the defensive end.
“I can shake him,” Shay scoffed.
Oshon wasn’t doubting her.
“She’s pretty fast,” he said. “I’d go for her feet.”
Shay had the fastest feet in the county for a 6-foot-2 college basketball recruit. Time after time, she ran the floor like a gazelle, hitting left-handed layup after left-handed layup. None of the opposing centers could stay with her. So, she beat the centers downcourt. And the forwards. And most of the time, the guards.
“I’m a good finisher,” Shay understated.
Did being left-handed help?
“Everyone knew,” she said. “I kept going left. They didn’t stop me.”
Piling up accomplishments, like winning Player of the Year awards, are big factors, of course, in selecting the Athlete of the Year.
In basketball, Shay, the soon-to-be Morehead State freshman, was the MVP of the Moir Christmas Christmas Classic, the Player of the Year in the North Piedmont Conference and the Rowan County Player of the Year.
She had 11 games of 26 points or more with a high of 38 in a 24-3 season. Only four other West teams since 1960 won that many.
“I expected us to do well,” she said.
Shay credits volleyball for keeping her in shape for basketball. By the time hoops was over and track began, those fast feet were still leading West Rowan to victory in relays. She was all-conference and all-county in that sport, too.
To win the award this year was extremely satisfying. It was the year of the female athlete in Rowan County.
Shay beat out names like Allison Blackwell and Kelly Dulkoski (last year’s winner) of Carson and Brielle Blaire of Salisbury.
Speaking of confidence, does anyone have more than Oshon, an all-conference and all-county athlete in football and basketball?
He beat out multiple-sport athletes like Carson’s Myquon Stout (last year’s winner) and Salisbury’s Brian Bauk and Keion Adams.
In hoops, the future Louisburg College player was the Rowan County and the Yadkin Valley Conference Player of the Year. He was District 11 Player of the Year. He led the county with 16 points per game and who knows what kind of numbers he’d have put up had North not won so many blowouts?
He is known as a basketball player but what he did in football, his second sport, was pretty-eye-opening as well.
After being hurt as a junior, he was placed at defensive end under the direction of Stevie Williams. He flourished. He could probably excel in that sport in college.
“At the beginning of the season, it was tough,” Oshon said. “Coach Stevie helped me out. I got used to it.”
Then, there was the game against West Montgomery. North needed points so the defensive end pleaded to put insert him at tight end.
“I told the coaches on the sidelines, ‘You give me the ball, we’ll win.’ ”
Oshon came through, of course, scoring on catches of 45 and 10 yards. He finished as the leading receiver with three grabs for 83 yards. The Cavs came out on top, 20-14.
“They gave me the ball. We won,” Oshon nodded.
So when we brought the two together, they had some fun the other’s sports. Oshon tried to hand the baton to Shay in a relay without dropping it. He looked a little lost when she started bumping a volleyball. Looks like in the photo, he’s losing the arm-wrestling competition. Even when they matched up in basketball, he had to think strategy.
“She’s pretty long, too. I’d have to get by her.”
Just like in football? You can imagine Shay as Scott Young’s quarterback at West, taking that ball around the end, juking the North Rowan defensive end. Oshon was asked again about that gridiron matchup.
“Like, I said, she’s pretty fast,” he chuckled.
Only one thing to do, Oshon.
Go for the feet. Go for the feet.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.