Surry Central High School named Makenzie Mooney and Cole Leonard as its Senior Athletes of the Year for 2015-16 during the school’s annual awards presentation on Friday morning.
The two student-athletes, both of whom graduated with honors later that night, were two-sport athletes who earned a long list of accolades during their four years as Golden Eagles. Both played basketball for Surry Central, but may have been better known for their exploits in their other sport.
Mooney was a member of the Lady Eagles’ varsity basketball team for three years and a captain as a senior, leading the team in scoring this past winter and being chosen as co-MVP for the 2015-16 team. But she earned even more honors after trying out for soccer in the spring of her junior year and being tabbed as a starter immediately by Coach Matt Richardson. Mooney spent two years as the starting goalkeeper for the Lady Eagles, and was both all-conference and all-region as a senior.
“This young lady never stopped improving as a goalkeeper from the day she won the starting job,” said Richardson. “She was a true difference maker who not only provided stability to your defense, but also made many spectacular saves that translated to more wins. With her stellar play and easy going personality, she earned the respect and support of all of her teammates and coaches.”
In basketball, Mooney also earned all-conference honors during her senior season, in which she was regarded as Central’s top defender.
“(She is) a great athlete who shines on and off the court. Athletically, she is someone who was able to pick up things quickly and then add her quickness and work ethic to make herself and her teammates better,” said Surry Central girls’ basketball coach Mandy Holt. “Off the court, she is an honors student who also has a creative side, excelling in the arts. I am so proud of what she has accomplished in her basketball career.”
She ranked in the top 20 of her class with a GPA of 4.49, and plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall.
Leonard ranks in the top 25 of the class himself, having wound down his academic career at Central with a GPA of 4.41.
The Appalachian State-bound graduate was his team’s leading scorer on the hardwood this past winter, at 10.3 points per game, including 35 in the team’s 72-62 season-opening victory over North Wilkes on Nov. 24. He was part of the basketball program for four years, including two on the varsity.
“This young person is the kind of guy that you would want your son to emulate; a tremendously hard worker who is also humble and unassuming,” stated Ken Eiswald, his varsity basketball coach.
His best sport, however, was tennis, where he was a two-time regional qualifier and went undefeated in Western Piedmont Athletic Conference play as a senior.
Leonard’s 2016 WPAC record was a perfect 13-0 in singles and 16-0 in doubles. He teamed up with Brandon Norman to win the conference doubles title, and he and Norman were the No. 4 seeds in the 2016 regional doubles tournament.
“This young man has exhibited the ability and competitiveness that very few have shown in my years as the men’s tennis coach,” said SCHS tennis coach Mark Parsons. “I am very thankful for having been able to coach such a fine young man!”