High school sports: North grad Stoner wins JT Bost Sportsmanship Award

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2023

By Mike London

SPENCER — This year’s female winner of the annual J.T. Bost Sportsmanship Award is recent North Rowan graduate Chloee Stoner.

“It’s mind-blowing, really, when you think about winning a countywide award,” Stoner said. “Just a huge honor.”

Educator and coach Andrew Poston sponsors the award in memory of Bost, a former colleague who umpired and officiated a multitude of sports before his tragic death in an accident in April 2018.

Ask Poston what the award is all about, and he’s got the answer.

“I think it’s about Taylor Conrad and Adalie Harrison pushing each other hard, but then congratulating each other no matter who won a tough cross country race,” he said. “I think it’s about Mackenzie Chabala being down 20 points in a basketball game and still reaching out and helping an opponent up off the floor.”

So this award is about competing like crazy, but still being a good sportswoman.

J.T. Bost Award winners don’t play dirty, but they play tough. They encourage their teammates. They handle whatever adversity happens with grace, poise and determination. They don’t gripe to officials. They don’t display bad body language. When a call goes against them, they shake it off and they keep playing.

This award is about respecting refs, coaches, teammates and opponents. It’s about respecting the sport that you’re playing.

J.T. Bost Award winners keep stout hearts in defeat. They stay humble in victory.

Sportswriter Grantland Rice penned famous words in 1941: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes — not that you won or lost — but how you played the game.”

That’s the direction from which the J.T. Bost Award is coming from. This is not an award for being the best player, but it’s recognition for giving every game the best that you had to give.

The previous female winners of the award were Carson’s Conrad, West Rowan’s KK Dowling and South Rowan’s Chabala. All of them were well above average athletes who also played the games the right way.

Stoner fits perfectly into that mold.

She’s a very good athlete. When the Post decided on the Tracy Connor Rowan County Female Athlete of the Year for the 2022-23 school year, West’s Emma Clarke, All-State in two sports and a starter for a state champion in her third sport, wasn’t a hard choice, but Stoner, all-conference in three sports for North, was in the top five.

Stoner was North’s best softball and volleyball player. She also was a starter and a solid rebounder and defender for a strong basketball team.

She played at the varsity level on all three teams for four seasons. She was homecoming queen. She meant a lot to her school for a long time, in the classroom, in the hall, on the field and in the gym.

“I had to have a different mindset depending on the sport,” Stoner said. “In basketball we had a competitive team and we went hard. I’d get mad sometimes in basketball, but I would still try to keep calm. In volleyball and softball, I had to remember that I was playing with a lot of kids who were learning the game and didn’t have as much experience as I did. I tried to be a leader and tried to be encouraging.”

No matter what the scoreboard said in a softball game, Stoner kept her head up and her heart in it. She’s an infielder who North had to use as a pitcher, so there were some difficult days, but her grit impressed opposing coaches so much that she was voted Central Carolina Conference Player of the Year. She can play. Against rival Salisbury, she hit two inside-the-park homers in the same game.

Last December at the Dale’s Sporting Goods Sam Moir Christmas Classic, Stoner was the recipient of the RONZ Award winner that is given in memory of Ronnie Gallagher, the Post’s sports editor from 1997 until his death in 2013. The RONZ Award has a lot in common with the J.T. Bost Award. It is traditionally given to a player on the runner-up team who demonstrated outstanding leadership and sportsmanship.

On Aug. 20, Stoner will check in to Guilford College, her new home.

She is a softball recruit, but she won’t have to pitch for Guilford.

Her future is in the infield. She’s been mostly a shortstop during her travel ball career, but she may shift to third base in college.

“That’s what I’m hearing from the coaches,” Stoner said. “Workouts will start in the fall, and I’m super-excited about school and softball.”

Stoner hopes that her college studies will lead to a nursing career.

She laughs a lot and enjoys family time and movies, but when it’s time to compete, the latest J.T. Bost Award winner will answer the bell.