A look back at 100 newsmakers over the past 12 months

The Herald Weekly looks back at 100 people who made the past year memorable. Our list is not definitive or ranked. It’s merely a sampling of interesting people who have appeared in the newspaper over the past year. Know of someone who belongs on the list or who would make for a memorable story? Email us at news@huntersvilleherald.com.



• David Auger – As CEO of MI-Connection, Auger led the Davidson and Mooresville-based cable company several steps toward profitability. The company launched a marketing campaign promoting local people who use its services, offered programming on mobile devices and signed contracts with Langtree at the Lake in Mooresville and MSC Industrial Supply in Davidson.

• Bill Berry – Berry works as president and CEO of Huntersville-based American Tire Distributors. It was one of five Lake Norman-area firms to make the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. The company raised enough money at its annual charity golf tournament to donate $170,000 to Angels and Sparrows, $100,000 to Boundless Playgrounds and $35,000 to Charlotte Bridge Home. 

• Armin Desch – Desch celebrated the 20th anniversary of Armin’s Catering in Huntersville at a new office in Birkdale Business Park. He also opened The Pearl Wedding and Events Center at Lake Norman off Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. He hired chef Nicholas Apap, formerly of Trump National Golf Club Charlotte and the Peninsula Club.

• Jim Engel – As president and CEO of Aquesta Bank, Engel announced several new signs of growth during the year, including the addition of a bank branch at NorthCross Village Shopping Center off Exit 25 scheduled for competition in the first quarter of 2014. The Cornelius-based bank has branches in Davidson and Mooresville.

Erik Gershwind – Gershwind serves as CEO of MSC Industrial Supply, a firm that opened a 180,000-square-foot corporate headquarters off Exit 30 in Davidson. Gershwind attended a grand opening Sept. 27, noting how the environment and access to quality people made Davidson the ideal choice to open a second headquarters. He described the opening as a milestone signifying growth.

• Brian and Tim Helfrich – The Helfrich brothers co-own Summit Coffee, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in September. Summit, located on Davidson’s Main Street, announced plans in August to open a second location at Davidson College that will include a pub and restaurant. The coffeehouse also organized running events to raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital and nonprofits.

• Abigail Jennings – Jennings, president of Lake Norman Realty, was named the 2013 Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Businessperson of the Year. She’s been president of the company since 1998. It’s grown to include offices in Cornelius, Davidson, Denver, Mooresville and Statesville. Lake Norman Realty also acquired Mooresville-based Armstrong-Robinson Realtors, welcoming namesakes Summer Robinson and Lance Armstrong to its Davidson office.

• Nick Lyssikatos – Lyssikatos, owner of Brickhouse Tavern, opened Port City Club on Harborside Drive, the same lakefront location that had been Midtown Sundries for 11 years and Latitude 36 in 2011. The restaurant features a coffee bar and focuses on seating larger parties and lighter food at affordable price points.

• David Marsh – Marsh not only serves as a U.S. Olympic men’s swim team coach, but he’s also CEO of SwimMac. The company may expand to Langtree at the Lake in Mooresville in early 2016. Mooresville and Iredell County leaders approved economic development incentives in September if the company invests at least $10 million into the proposed, 51,000-square-foot swimming center.

• Ryan McDaniels – McDaniels succeeded Jerry Broadway as the executive director for the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation. The 33-year-old Statesville native previously worked as vice president for business recruiting at Cabarrus Economic Development. McDaniels sought to provide more creative solutions in recruiting companies to make up for the lack of real estate options.

• Wendy Moran – As chairwoman of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, Moran endorsed bond referendums that would benefit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Central Piedmont Community College and the Town of Cornelius. Describing herself as a Huntersville resident who works in Denver, Moran said she understood how road improvements and infrastructure needs of one town affect neighboring communities.

• Bill Russell – As president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, Russell championed the idea of approving bond referendums that would increase capacity for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College. The chamber boasted 1,000 business members and continued hosting popular programs, such as networking events, candidate forums and the annual business expo.

• Jack Salzman – Salzman, former chairman of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, celebrated the 10th anniversary of Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Cornelius in June, as well as expanded into the Mountain Island Lake area. He bought the former McKenney Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Gastonia on May 14 and renamed it Gastonia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

• Sharon Simpson – Simpson serves as publisher of Lake Norman Currents, which won the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Small Business of the Year award. The magazine has grown from six employees in 2008 to 12. Simpson also serves on the chamber’s board of directors, as well as many planning committees. She’s been a member of the North Mecklenburg Rotary Club for 19 years and served as its president.

• Abe and Art VanWingerden – The VanWingerdens finalized the purchase of assets from South Carolina-based Stacy’s Greenhouses on Aug. 30, a move designed to grow Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville. In September, the company reported fiscal year sales of $146 million. Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce recognized the firm at the Champions of Diversity awards Sept. 19 at Port City Club.



Kendell Berry – Berry became head of school at Davidson Day in October 2012. The school announced in June that it would not move forward with plans to build a second campus for seventh- through 12th-graders in Mooresville. Instead, Davidson Day will add 20,000 square feet to its existing campus and refurbish its theater, allowing for more “organic growth.”

• Terri Cockerham – Cockerham, who had served as principal of Hough High since it opened in 2010, was promoted in June to lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ human resources department as part of a district office reorganization. Laura Rosenbach replaced her at Hough. Cockerham met with Hough parents in May concerning multiple bomb threats made within a two-week period.

• Steve Esposito – Esposito became principal at Bradley Middle in July, after three years leading Highland Creek Elementary. He came in with a focus on communication, hoping for a smooth transition at a school that’s had nine principals in 15 years. He earned Principal of the Year honors in September for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools North Learning Community.

• Daniel Ferriero, Cleveland Penn and Mike Puckett – The JROTC instructors led Hopewell High to its sixth Superintendent Cup Championship in seven years, besting 19 programs across Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Students also won the Furman Raider Meet and Lee County Tri-Meet. Hopewell cadets maintained a 100-percent graduation rate over nine years when The Herald profiled them in April.

• Raymond Giovanelli – Giovanelli works as principal of Grand Oak Elementary, a new school that opened in Huntersville this fall. Families helped name the school, as well as pick its mascot and colors. The school, designed to house 800 students, relieved overcrowding at Torrence Creek Elementary. Giovanelli saw the opportunity to explore new ways of teaching through collaboration and technology.

• Jessica Holbrook – Holbrook succeeded James Garvin as principal of Cornelius Elementary in September.  She began her teaching career at Newell Elementary, where she taught second and third grades from 1997 to 2010. She described kindergarteners as the class of 2026, stressing to The Herald the importance of preparing students for a global economy.

Wes Johnston – Johnston took over as head of school at Lake Norman Christian School in Davidson. Johnston has more than 20 years of educational leadership experience in Maine, California and Florida. He also has a knack for creative planning. Lake Norman Christian, in its sixth year, added a four-year-old kindergarten program and got its leased guaranteed until 2021.

• Mike Jones – In his first year as principal, Jones led Hopewell to the third highest percentage increase in graduation rates among CMS high schools. The rate rose from 78.7 percent to 86.5 percent. Hopewell also launched a Freshman Academy in August. Jones resigned in the fall, allowing J. Dino Gisiano to become principal in December.

Rhonda Lennon – Lennon sought and successfully won a second term on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education, defeating Christine Mast in the November election. Lennon aligned herself with the $290 million bond package that included 17 projects throughout the district. She also took pride in hiring Heath Morrison as superintendent, saving middle school sports and working with state legislators.

• Heath Morrison – Morrison, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, won public support of a $290 million bond referendum that included expanding career-technical programs at North Mecklenburg High and converting Davidson Elementary into a K-8 school. The district also announced several measures last month designed to give parents more diverse education options, including a Montessori school at Long Creek Elementary in Huntersville.

• Carol Quillen – As president of Davidson College, Quillen announced a number of strategic developments to better position it as one of America’s premier institutions. It plans to expand its digital studies program, produce a series of online courses and join the Atlantic 10 athletic conference. Huge donations have come in, including $4 million pledge toward a $15 million athletic center.

• Laura Rosenbach – Rosenbach went from working as the principal of Bradley Middle School to the principal of Hough High School over the summer, filling the vacancy left by Terri Cockerham’s promotion to central office. Rosenbach told The Herald over the summer that she wanted to push top students to their potential while helping meet the needs of struggling students.

• Shannon Stein – Stein works as managing director for Lake Norman Charter, the second largest charter school in the state. The school opened a $3 million addition to its high school campus that includes a choral room, band room, art room and technology suite. The addition, once hampered by the slumping economy, finished campus construction, Stein told The Herald in August.

• Joy Warner – Under Warner’s leadership, Community School of Davidson opened a K-8 playfield at its Griffith Street campus and a 22,000-square-foot addition, dubbed “ArtSpace” at its Armour Street campus. The ArtSpace features a 200-seat black-box theater, as well as a performing and visual arts wing. She was a finalist in Lake Norman Magazine’s Women of Will Awards.

• Tamara Williams – Central Piedmont Community College chose Williams to succeed the retiring Beverly Dickson as dean of the Merancas Campus, which educates 11,425 students. The Cornelius resident serves as the academic and administrative leader on the Huntersville campus. She told The Herald over the summer that she values providing access to education and establishing connections with the community.



• Linda Beck – Beck, of Huntersville, directs the Mooresville/Lake Norman United Way office in downtown Mooresville. She has worked to increase the visibility of the office from Charlotte to Troutman. Her office distributed $925,319 to 15 agencies in 2012-13.  She worked to help the United Way of Central Carolina collect its $21.2 million goal by Feb. 14.

• Richard Bellow – Bellow retired from his post as monsignor of St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville at the end of June and became dean of students at St. Mark Catholic School. Bellow served the church for nine years, during which it built a 1,500-seat sanctuary and added a bilingual service. He overcame a triple-bypass surgery in 2009. 

• Ann Church – Church serves as president and CEO of UMAR, a Huntersville nonprofit founded by the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. UMAR observed its 30th anniversary of helping integrate disabled people. Church has established public-private partnerships to expand its scope, which includes 24 group homes, nine apartments, two day homes and two art centers.

• Robin Emmons – Emmons founded Sow Much Good, a charity that works for food justice for those in need. Ebony Magazine profiled the Huntersville resident in a May 2013 feature titled “Hero Next Door.” She also caught the attention of CNN. The cable news channel named her one of 10 CNN Heroes of 2013, an honor that came with a $50,000 prize.

• Ray Evernham – ESPN racing broadcaster Ray Evernham founded IGNITE when he couldn’t find quality programs for his son, Ray J, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. The nonprofit celebrated its first anniversary Dec. 10 at its office in the Davidson Cotton Mill. He also raised $46,000 for the nonprofit through the AmeriCarna LIVE charity car show Nov. 30 at Ingersoll Rand.

Naeem Fazal – Fazal started Mosaic Church in 2006, which spawned What if Everyone, a regional day of service, in Huntersville in 2009.  That led to 7 Days of Service on April 13 at Blythe Elementary School. About 150 people signed up to help various nonprofits. The church plans to move to the Northlake Pavilion near Northlake Mall.

• Jack Hart – Hart, 95, raised more than $7,000 to earn the title “Biggest Cheese in Town” from Our Towns Habitat. Proceeds from the campaign went to the nonprofit’s Women Build efforts. The longtime Habitat ReStore volunteer sold watercolor paintings at an art sale in July and held a barn sale later in the summer to raise the money.

• Georgia Krueger – Krueger, executive director for the Ada Jenkins Center, earned recognition from the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Champions of Diversity awards Sept. 19 at Port City Club. Chamber President Bill Russell said Krueger’s agency instills confidence in people to get back on their feet. Several companies donated to the charity in 2013.

Eddie Long – Long preached Aug. 11 to no more than 150 people at New Birth Charlotte in Huntersville, following the departure of Bishop Terrell Murphy. The North Mecklenburg High alum has preached to thousands in venues like the Georgia Dome, but legal disputes have marred his reputation in recent years. In August, Long preached the idea of rebirth.

 • Pam Maier – Maier won the G. Jackson Burney Community Service Award, given annually to someone who demonstrates unselfish service to the Davidson community. Maier, who has lived in Davidson for 20 years, has volunteered at The Pines’ health center and worships at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church, where she sings in the choir.

• Betty Patterson – People have been raising money all year for an effort dubbed “Build Betty a House.” Patterson is the namesake of this effort. In May 2012, her lifelong home burned down. She had no homeowners insurance and no resources to rebuild it. The North Mecklenburg Woman’s Club was among groups that came to Patterson’s aid this year.

• Paul Robinson Jr. – Robinson became executive director of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity on Aug. 5, succeeding Terry Laney. Robinson joined the nonprofit from Iraq, where he served as executive director of micro-finance program MSME Finance. Two months later, Our Towns Habitat observed its 25-year anniversary, having built homes in Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville.

Michael Shields – Shields, a rabbi with Temple Kol Tikvah, led his congregation to open the first Jewish synagogue in the Lake Norman area. More than 400 attended a dedication ceremony April 14. The congregation also unveiled a new logo in March, featuring a ripple of water meant to symbolize a lasting effect on members.

• Sandy Tilley – Tilley serves as executive director for Angels and Sparrows, a nonprofit that fights hunger in Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. Her nonprofit received a $170,000 check from American Tire Distributors in October. When The Herald published a story in December profiling the 50 most powerful women in Lake Norman, several readers responded that Tilley belonged on the list.



• Karen Bentley – Bentley, a Mecklenburg County Commissioner, told business leaders June 21 that Lake Norman would have public-access swimming by summer 2014. She announced Nov. 11 that she would not be seeking a fifth term on the board. The community relations director at Novant Health also earned a master's degree in healthcare administration.

• John Bradford A month after getting elected to a second term as a Cornelius commissioner, Bradford announced plans to run for the N.C. House of Representatives next year. Bradford serves as CEO of Park Avenue Properties, which announced plans to launch satellite offices in Raleigh and Greensboro, among other places.

• Beth Cashion – Cashion was the leading vote-getter in the Davidson commissioner election in November and was appointed the mayor pro tem. Cashion, a sales director who served on the Davidson Planning Board, told The Herald over the summer that the biggest issue she’d like to face as a commissioner is managing growth.

• Brian Jenest – Jenest was not only mayor pro tem for the Town of Davidson, but he also chaired the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, a group of leaders that advocate regional road projects. His group adopted a resolution supporting a $20 million bond package to benefit Cornelius. He earned a fourth term on the Davidson Board of Commissioners in November.

• Charles Jeter – Jeter, a Huntersville resident and four-term town commissioner, sponsored a lot of bills in the N.C. House of Representatives, including one signed into law that allowed Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Mooresville and Troutman to enforce noise ordinances and state laws regarding theft and vandalism on Lake Norman.

• Rob Kidwell – Kidwell was the sixth-leading vote-getter in the Huntersville commissioner race, which was enough to edge out incumbent Charles Guignard for the final seat on the board in the November election. Kidwell, a production manager for SATO America, was the only newcomer to join the board from the 10-candidate field.

• Robert Pittenger – The Charlotte resident represents the Lake Norman area in the U.S. House of Representatives. In August, he met with Israeli leaders Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu to assess the terrorist threat in the Middle East. Following that trip, he held town halls in Mooresville and Cornelius. He also opened a Lake Norman office in Mooresville.

• Jim Puckett – Puckett, who served as a Mecklenburg County Commissioner from 2000 to 2006 and the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board from 1997 to 2000, challenged Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain in the November election. He lost by fewer than three dozen votes. Two weeks later, Puckett announced that he was running for his old seat on the county commission.

Lynette Rinker – Rinker was appointed mayor in January after Jeff Tarte joined the N.C. Senate. She cast the deciding vote on Cornelius supporting high-occupancy toll lanes along the Lake Norman portion of I-77. She chose not to run for a second term as mayor, revealing in November plans to campaign for the N.C. House of Representatives.

• Thurman Ross – Ross proved to be this year’s redemption story. Ross had served 16 years as a Cornelius commissioner, only to lose his seat by a handful of votes in 2011. He failed to get appointed to Lynette Rinker’s vacated seat on two occasions. Ross was re-elected to the board in November. He attributed the victory to reaching out to more constituents.

• Jill Swain – Swain defeated Jim Puckett by less than three dozen votes to win a fourth term as mayor of Huntersville. She missed an Oct. 17 candidate forum so she could recruit Chinese investors to do business in North Carolina. Members of the Asian Manufacturers Association traveled to Huntersville on June 17 to have breakfast with her.

• Jeff Tarte – Tarte, of Cornelius, represented the Lake Norman area in the N.C. Senate. Gov. Pat McCrory praised Tarte for sponsoring the bill designed to correct the botched 2011 property revaluation in Mecklenburg County. McCrory said Tarte brought a mayor’s attitude to Raleigh to cut through bureaucracy. A baseball field at Westmoreland Athletic Complex was named after him.

• Thom Tillis – Tillis, of Cornelius, was re-elected as Speaker of the House in January. Two months later, the Republican announced plans to run for Kay Hagan’s U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Earlier this month, Tillis mocked U.S. Sen. Harry Reid after learning the Senate Majority PAC spent $736,882 on North Carolina television ads to discredit him and promote “Obamacare.”

• Chuck Travis – Travis, a two-time Cornelius commissioner, ran unopposed for mayor after Lynette Rinker said she would not run for the office. Travis served as mayor pro tem. Travis told The Herald that transportation and infrastructure were the biggest issues he would like to tackle as mayor.

• Laurie Venzon – Venzon, a Davidson commissioner since 2007, left her seat in June when her family moved to Kansas City, Kan. She considered being able to turn MI-Connection around by hiring David Auger as CEO as the board’s greatest accomplishment during her three terms. Her seat was vacant through the November election.

• Woody Washam – Washam, Jim Duke and Thurman Ross were elected onto the Cornelius Board of Commissioners in November.  Washam was the leading vote-getter, beating incumbent Dave Gilroy by more than 200 votes and John Bradford by 400 votes. He previously applied to fill Lynette Rinker’s vacant commissioner seat that eventually went to Bruce Trimbur.

• John Woods – Woods ran unopposed for another term as Davidson mayor. He’s served since 2007.  In September, he welcomed MSC Industrial Supply to the community, as the firm opened a 180,000-square-foot co-headquarters that will attract 400 jobs to the region by 2017. That same month, he welcomed the Web.com Tour to River Run Country Club for the Chiquita Classic.



• Matthew Bell – Bell fell off Luxury Yacht Charter’s The Raging Mistress during an evening cruise Sept. 1 near Davidson Cove, spurring a search that spanned nearly two weeks. A boater found the charter boat captain’s body on Sept. 13 near Shearwater Point Drive in Cornelius. The circumstances of how Bell wound up in the water were unclear.

• Torie Costa – Costa, of Huntersville, competed in the Miss North Carolina Teen USA pageant in November after enduring several rounds of chemotherapy. Costa didn’t win, but she earned the title of Miss Congeniality. She told The Herald that battling cancer helped her realize that beauty is from within. The Make-A-Wish Foundation later helped Costa attend a Victoria Secret fashion show.

• Bob Deaton – After getting his property tax bill, Deaton began researching the spike. The Cornelius resident initially had trouble convincing others of the problems with Mecklenburg County’s 2011 revaluation, but after a lot of legwork, he wound up getting local leaders to look into the problem. The end result? Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill calling for a do-over.

• Nash Grier – Nash, the younger brother of football star Will Grier, appeared on an October episode of “Good Morning America” for having 1.5 million Vine followers due to his 6-second video clips. The Davidson Day sophomore got to meet Sylvester Stallone, who joked that with the 6-second video app, he would’ve been able to make 8 million “Rocky” sequels.

• Gary Hershberger – Hershberger, founder of Deer Mountain Productions, worked to get an inspirational film, “Late in the Season,” made that would be set at Davidson College. He met with potential investors in the Lake Norman area and relied on residents, such as 84-year-old Jim Kerr, to tap into connections to help with the financing.

• David Marshburn – Marshburn may be the most famous Davidson College graduate in the universe. The NASA flight engineer left earth Dec. 19, 2012, from the Kazakhstan for the International Space Station. He spent five months in space, tweeting daily about the experience. He spoke to his alma mater via a video downlink from the International Space Station in April.

Lisa Mayhew-Jones – Mayhew-Jones chaired the Smithville CommUNITY Coalition, which opened a community garden in the historic Smithville Community in Cornelius. The garden sits on the same land her grandparents owned. The coalition won support of Cornelius commissioners, who agreed to operate and manage the garden. Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker credited the group in April for its partnership.

• Kurt Naas – Naas founded Widen I-77, a group against the widening of Interstate 77 with high-occupancy toll lanes. He and his group wanted local leaders to advocate for widening I-77 with general-purpose lanes. Naas was also critical of Lake Norman leaders for letting Charlotte have too much influence on a regional transportation planning group. 

• Phil Potter – Potter retired after nine years as chief of the Huntersville Police Department on Aug. 30. Not long after leaving Huntersville, he got a job leading the police department in Alcoa, Tenn. Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent replaced Potter on an interim basis, while Michael Kee continued his deputy police chief duties until he left two months later.

• Case Warnemunde – Warnemunde, the brain trust of Bella Love, continued to promote the idea of reconnecting the community through his group’s events. Bella Love organized ‘Tawba Walk in downtown Cornelius and open mic nights at Kadi Fit. Mayor Lynette Rinker used Bella Love events to explain Cornelius culture to N.C. Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker during a summer tour of town. 

• Mel Watt – Watt told an oral history class at Davidson College how he went from shining shoes as a young boy at two segregated Davidson barbershops to becoming a U.S. congressman. President Barack Obama nominated Watt in May to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He was appointed to the seat in December.

• Gary Wheeler – Wheeler, president of North Carolina-based Level Path Productions, filmed his movie “Saving Westbrook High” in sites throughout Davidson, including Davidson Elementary School and Lake Norman Christian School. The movie aired on the UP network in October. Wheeler also began shooting “Mountaintop,” a film based on a Robert Whitlow novel, in Huntersville.

• Vince Winegardner – Winegardner was one of the most vocal and visible supporters of Widen I-77, a group that preferred widening Interstate 77 with general-purpose lanes instead of high-occupancy toll lanes. Winegardner ran for Davidson commissioner, criticizing incumbents and asking voters to elect candidates who displayed independent thought. Voters chose three of four incumbents, but not Winegardner.


Sports (Prep)

• Emily Allen – Allen won four gold medals at the N.C. 4A girls swimming championships, earning state titles in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, as well as the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. And the Hough High sophomore did it with flu-like symptoms. Allen won Girls Swimmer of the Year honors from Lake Norman Publications.

• Julia Brown – Brown has played volleyball, basketball and lacrosse for the Hough Huskies, as a junior, winning all-conference in all three. She earned Player of the Year honors from The Herald in lacrosse and volleyball. Brown led the volleyball team to the state championship game this fall and earned a scholarship to play for N.C. State University.

• Sam Bryant – Bryant won a state championship in wrestling as a junior and senior at SouthLake Christian Academy. As a senior, Bryant went 34-0 in the 160-pound weight class, even defeating East Lincoln’s Jeremy Tarleton, the eventual N.C. 2A state champion. He was the first undefeated wrestler in SouthLake history, earning Herald Weekly Wrestler of the Year honors.

• Malia Ellington – The Town of Davidson honored the 16-year-old Oct. 16 for winning national and international triathlon titles. She also specializes in running long distances. Ellington, a junior at Community School of Davidson, has won state championships the last couple of athletic seasons, earning Herald Weekly Girls Track Athlete of the Year honors.

• Chad Grier – Chad Grier coached the Davidson Day Patriots to state football championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. His son, Will, was the star on the team each of those years, playing his way to an athletic scholarship at the University of Florida. Davidson Day’s success and Will’s dominance was so apparent that ESPN3 aired a game on television.

• Will Grier – Grier finished his football career at Davidson Day School by leading the Patriots to their third consecutive state championship. He led the nation in passing yards. Sports Editor Cliff Merhtens counted 10 state records Grier would have owned if the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association kept stats. He’ll play for the Florida Gators next year. 

• Carolyn Huddy – Huddy led Lake Norman Charter’s girls soccer team to an 18-3 record and a state championship. She was the goalkeeper for 15 shutouts during the season, including four games in the state playoffs. Lake Norman Publications named Huddy the best girls soccer player in the region. Huddy signed to play in college for UNC Wilmington.

• Jack Manchester – Manchester emerged from the water as the region’s top swimmer. The Hough High senior won state championships in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. He helped the Huskies finish second place in the 4A championships. He won Boys Swimmer of the Year honors from Lake Norman Publications. He enrolled at Harvard University in the fall.

Sabrina Moore – Moore, a senior at North Mecklenburg High, won state championships in the long jump and 55-meter dash Feb. 9 in Winston-Salem. She jumped 18 feet, seven inches to win the long jump and ran the dash in 7.1 seconds. Moore signed a Letter of Intent to attend Texas Christian University.

• Courtney Mudge – Mudge, a junior at Community School of Davidson, won the N.C. Class 1A singles championship Oct. 26 in Cary. She earned Herald Weekly Girls Tennis Player of the Year honors after going 17-1 in singles competition and 6-0 in doubles action. Also, Mudge ranked No. 7 among North Carolina players in the U.S. Tennis Association.

Ryder Ryan – Ryan, a junior pitcher for the North Mecklenburg High baseball team, was named the Lake Norman Publications Baseball Player of the Year. He committed to North Carolina, after posting a 5-3 record with a 0.61 earned run average and 109 strikeouts in 68 innings. He also batted .589 with five home runs and 29 RBIs.

• Aaron Seward – Seward, a senior at Davidson Day, won state championships in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles to earn Boys Track Athlete of the Year honors from Lake Norman Publications. He ran the anchor leg in a third place 400-meter relay, as well. Seward also played wide receiver. He signed to play football at Carson-Newman University.

• Robert Washington Jr. – Washington was named to the USA Football Under-16 National Team after rushing for 1,017 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman on the SouthLake Christian Academy football team. As a sophomore, Washington scored the lone touchdown Nov. 15 in a 7-0 win to lead the Huntersville school to its first state football championship.


Sports (College/Pro)

Sophia Aleksandravicius – Aleksandravicius ended one of the most successful women’s basketball careers in Davidson College history in a 72-60 loss to Charlotte in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year finished her career with seven school career records, including points (1,878), rebounds (1,143) and blocks (339). 

• Kyle Busch – The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, earning four wins and 22 top-10 finishes. Busch also won 12 times in the Nationwide Series and five times in the Camping World Truck Series. Kyle Busch Motorsports won the truck series owner’s championship. Off the track, he bought a $7.5 million mansion in Denver.

• Jake Cohen – Cohen earned Southern Conference Player of the Year honors playing for the Davidson Wildcats men’s basketball team. The 6-foot-10 senior finished sixth in the conference in scoring (14.9 points), second in blocks (1.7) and eighth in shooting (49.5 percent). Cohen signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Euroleague and played in the Phoenix Suns Summer League team.

• Stephen Curry – Curry hosted the Curry Celebrity Classic golf tournament June 17 at River Run Golf Club, raising $70,000 for the Ada Jenkins Center. Curry, a graduate of Davidson College, plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. He broke Ray Allen’s record for 3-pointers in a season, with 270, in an April 17 game against the Portland Trailblazers.

• Joe Gibbs – Gibbs, owner of Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing, won 12 races thanks to the driving of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. All three made the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Gibbs was among five legends selected for the National Motorsports Press Association’s 2014 class, which will be inducted in January.

Michael Jordan – Jordan married a model and won praise for reclaiming the Charlotte Hornets name for his NBA franchise. But he makes this list for buying a 12,310-square-foot home in The Peninsula subdivision for $2.8 million. The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home was built in 1993, the same year Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to his sixth NBA championship.

• Matt Kenseth – Kenseth left Rousch Fensway Racing for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing, but didn’t need much time getting used to his new digs. He finished second behind NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson after winning seven times. Kenseth also won a couple of Nationwide Series races.

• Bob McKillop – McKillop led Davidson College men’s basketball team to a conference title and the second round of the NCAA Tournament, earning Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors. The loss to Marquette halted the nation’s longest winning steak (17 games). McKillop coached Team USA to ninth place at the Men’s World University Games on July 7-16 in Russia.

• Andrew Svoboda – Svoboda won the Web.com Tour’s Chiquita Classic on Sept. 8 at River Run Country Club in Davidson. The tour offered up-and-coming golfers the opportunity to qualify for the PGA Tour; however, Svoboda already secured a spot due to his regular season earnings. He earned $180,000 for winning the Chiquita Classic.