by Gary W. Hall
Barton College will host the 2017 Pup’s Steakhouse Celebration of Girls and Women in Sports on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. in Hardy Alumni Hall. Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend.
Featured speakers for the event will be Kamryn Graybeal, Sydney Graybeal, Phyllis Parish Howard, Caroline Searcy, Brianna Thomas and Sydney Turner.
The Carole McKeel Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the participation of girls and women in sport, will also be presented during the event. McKeel is a member of the Barton College Athletic Hall of Fame and served as the first-ever head coach in both women’s basketball and volleyball.
This year’s award recipient will be Toni Varacchi, director of athletics and head girls’ soccer coach at Wilson’s Fike High School.
Kamryn and Sydney Graybeal are twin sisters who will present together at the program. They are fourth-grade students at Rock Ridge Elementary School and compete in in the City of Wilson’s Recreation Soccer Program. Kamryn and Sydney played for Wilson’s All-Star team which won the recent Statewide Athletic Committee (SWAC) championship. They also participate in gymnastics, and are the daughters of David and Michelle Graybeal.
Phyllis Parish Howard is a 1979 magna cum laude graduate of Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College who played tennis four years for the Bulldogs under Hall of Fame coach Barbara Smith. She is director of local production for WRAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh. She has been honored with six regional Emmy Awards and a national Gracie Allen Award for outstanding local programs she wrote and produced. She has served from 2004-14 on the Barton College Board of Trustees and was named Alumna of the Year in 2011.
Caroline Searcy is a freshman at Fike High School, where she participates in volleyball and track and field. She also competes for the Wilson Elite Volleyball Club and participates in swimming, gymnastics, performance dance and theater. She earned a 4.0 grade point average in her first semester at Fike and was a finalist in the Wilson County Spelling Bee. She is the daughter of Dr. Douglas and Beth Searcy.
Brianna Thomas is a 2015 summa cum laude graduate at Barton who played four seasons of basketball under head coach Wendee Saintsing. She was a team captain and led the Bulldogs to a Conference Carolinas regular-season championship. Thomas was selected for a prestigious one-year internship at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis, Ind., which she completed immediately after graduation. She now serves as a finance senior associate/copack accountant with PepsiCo in Indianapolis.
Sydney Turner is a current Barton sophomore from Montgomery, Ala., who competes on the golf and swimming teams under head coaches Ashley Leonard and Tyler Ziegler, respectively. She serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and has been named to the Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll. She is the daughter of Gilmer and Shelisa Turner.
The event has been held annually since 2011, and the upcoming program will be the second year that it is sponsored by Pup’s Steakhouse.