Female Athlete of the Year: Susie Wear
By Ronnie Gallagher
Know what Salisbury High’s Susie Wear thinks is so neat about her and classmate Ibn Ali sharing the Salisbury Post Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards?
“The fact we cover six different sports is really cool,” she said.
While Ali starred in football, basketball and track, Wear was a standout in tennis, swimming and soccer.
And like Ali, she started at a very young age. Her mother has always enjoyed playing tennis so lessons for her daughter came at the age of eight. But it didn’t stop there.
“My parents (Susan and Ralph) let me try every single sport I wanted,” Wear recalls. “Basketball, softball, gymnastics ó they were always really encouraging. Whether there were conflicts in their schedule, they would always work with me to make sure I could participate in everything I wanted.
“But they never pushed me. When I didn’t want to do something anymore, they’d say, ‘That’s fine,’ and let me move on and try something else.”
It all paid off as she matched Ali as Central Carolina Conference and county athlete of the year. She was all-county in tennis and swimming for four years and soccer for three.
And the biggest award of all came from the NCHSAA, which honored her with the Clary Medal, which goes to the top student-athlete in the state.
Vice-president of the National Honor Society, Wear was selected to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, as well as the North Carolina Youth Legislative Assembly in Raleigh. She has gone on a mission trip to Mexico with her church and organized a tennis program for at-risk children in the community.
“Not only is Susie a fantastic athlete, but she is also a great person,” Salisbury soccer coach Matt Parrish said. “You put those two together and you’ve got a great kid.”
Tennis was Wear’s top sport. She was part of a state title team and won in doubles with Kasey Collins.
Tennis coach Chris Myers decided to put Wear and Collins together as juniors and they made the state championship match, losing to Erin Mode and Betsy Martin of Shelby, 7-5, 6-4.
“We were so happy and so shocked just to be in the finals that we considered it a successful year,” Wear said. “We worked really hard for the next year and we began to communicate better with each other.”
Lo and behold, the same matchup occurred this year. This time, Wear and Collins won ó by the exact score.
“That match was just as close,” Wear said. “So to beat them was a really good feeling.”
Then it was on to swimming. Wear qualified for the states for the fourth straight year. She was a part of the 200 individual medley relay.
“Tennis and swimming also have individual tournaments and those are more nerve-wracking,” Wear laughed. “Everyone’s eyes are on you.”
Eyes have been on Wear from the beginning. She has always been a leader.
“She’s the consummate team player,” Parrish said. “She’s always at practice, she always works hard, and she encourages younger players.”
But tennis has given her the most success and she gleefully reports that she has been giving her mother a tougher time on the courts.
“I grew up playing with her,” Wear said. “She always beat me. By the end of high school, I started getting some games off her.”
When Wear looks back on her career, she can sum it up with the team tennis championship in 2006.
“Some parent came up to my mom and asked, ‘Do you know what it’s like to win a state championship? Less than one percent of all high school students win.’
“That comment right there made me realize the success I’ve had, not just in tennis, but in all three of my sports.”
And like her classmate, Ali, she has an Athlete of the Year trophy to prove it.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or email@example.com.