The eight member schools of the South Fork 2A Conference recently created the new South Fork Courage Award, to be presented to a worthy student athlete, coach or administrator from the league that has shown an exemplary amount of personal courage in the face of an illness or some other catastrophic event in their lives during the current school year.
The inaugural 2019 award went to Ashley Wagner of Bandys.
Wagner, who participates in tennis and basketball, defeated leukemia not once, but twice during her tenure at Bandys. After first being diagnosed in the eighth grade, Wagner was forced to miss her entire freshman year of school and athletics.
But after staying caught up through online classes taken at home, she went into remission, gained her strength back and played varsity basketball during her sophomore year.
Soon after the season, however, Wagner found out that the leukemia had returned. She underwent a stem-cell transplant at Duke University Hospital, resulting in having to miss her junior year at Bandys.
Following the transplant, Wagner was very weak and is still trying to regain all of her strength. She returned to Bandys for her senior year, and was able to play tennis and basketball. She never asked to sit out of practice, and her work ethic was amazing.
On senior night, Wagner scored the first two points of the game, a moment that will be remembered forever by the entire Trojan family.
Through it all, Wagner never complained and always had a smile on her face. She is ranked sixth in her class out of 201 students, and will be attending Clemson University in the fall to study veterinary medicine.
“I can’t think of anyone better to receive the Courage Award for the South Fork 2A Athletic Conference,” said Bandys athletic director Brandon Harbinson. “Ashley has overcome so many obstacles in her time here at Bandys, but remains the sweet and smart girl that she has always been. I have no doubt that she will be nothing other than successful in her future endeavors.