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Congratulations Florence 1 Schools Athletes of the Year!

Congratulations Florence 1 Schools Athletes of the Year!


At a banquet Wednesday afternoon at the Florence Country Club, the female and male athletes of the year were recognized for South Florence, West Florence and Wilson. 

Congratulations to these student-athletes: 

South Florence: Justin Joe and Jada Montgomery

Justin Joe with SF AD Cody Slaughter
Jada Montgomery with SF AD Cody Slaughter










West Florence: Franklin Emerson and Sarah Beth Bailey

WF AD Greg Johnson and Franklin Emerson
Sarah Beth Bailey and WF AD Greg Johnson












Wilson: Talia Emmen and Jyron Waiters (not in attendance at the event)

Talia Emmen and Wilson AD Derrick McQueen










After introductions from the three athletic directors for their student-athlete finalists, the district male and female athletes of the year were announced: Justin Joe and Sarah Beth Bailey.

Please enjoy a portion of the introductions of Justin Joe and Sarah Beth Bailey by athletic directors Cody Slaughter and Greg Johnson, respectively.

Justin Joe

“Justin is a member of our football, wrestling and track and field teams. He is an exceptional offensive lineman, an intimidating wrestler and an accomplished thrower in the shot put. While his athleticism is most likely inherited, he also benefits from an exceptional work ethic both in athletics and in the classroom. Justin has a three 3.95 GPA and is a member of the National Beta Club. He is a leader within our school and has always done things the right way. His coaches would agree that they were fortunate to have him as a part of their team 

Justin was a member of the South team in football's North-South game and a member of the 4A South wrestling team in the North-South wrestling All-Star event. Being selected to one of these events is rare but being selected to two in the same year is legendary. 

Beyond his athletic ability, two things stand out about Justin. One: his work ethic. No one was ever going to outwork Justin. Number two was his leadership. Justin held those around him accountable to the same standards to which he held himself. We appreciate everything he has done for South Florence Athletics. He will forever be remembered for…being a member of the first state football state championship team. I will remember him for his love of South Florence and how much it means to him to be the best. Justin has signed his National letter of intent to continue his football career at Charleston Southern University. We all know that he'll continue his success and make us proud. Congratulations Justin.”

Sarah Beth Bailey

“ If you want to catch Sarah Beth Bailey you're going to have to work really hard to do so. She lives a pretty fast lifestyle, and yes that pun is intended. A pretty typical day for her in the fall, she would wake up and go to swim practice at 6:00 a.m. at the Country Club. Then she would rush to school where she was a teacher Cadet first block. Then she'd go from West Florence to her elementary school for her assignment and observations then back to West Florence for second block then off to McLoud to teach swim lessons to the little ones. She took care of her college classes at home and maybe even had time to eat and then it was back to cross country practice or whatever sport had a game that night. Can you imagine doing two endurance sports at the same time while working, having a social life, and holding down a job?

There's a reason we insist on calling our athletes student athletes. When the general population thinks of high school kids, they expect stereotypes of jocks. We take pride in our team GPA, in our academic progress and put an emphasis on student athlete that some people laugh at. We are proud that our average GPA has been above 4.25 for the last four years. Sarah Beth is sort of the face of that. In a class that will graduate 440 next week, Sarah Beth is number 12. Her sounds too good to be too good to be true GPA is a 5.295. That's the result of three AP classes and five college classes already completed 

This fall she completed the teacher Cadet program with Miss Sissy Smith. When I asked what she thought about Miss Bailey, the always eloquent Miss Smith summed up Sarah Beth better than I possibly could, “Sarah Beth is a quiet force. Her kind and gentle manner is so comforting but her determination and drive are incredibly fierce. I can't wait to see what her future holds.” 

Watch the entire Athlete of the Year presentation here: