Dixon’s Korenek named Heart of a Champion - Camp Lejeune Globe: Sports

Dixon’s Korenek named Heart of a Champion

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  • Dixon’s Korenek named Heart of a Champion

    Photo by Ken Buday Dixon High School's Abigail Korenek takes some batting practice before a game April 11, 2019. Korenek was recently announced as the winner of the Heart of a Champion award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. The award recognizes outstanding sportsmanship and citizenship.

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:19 pm

Abigail Korenek may be just a senior in high school, but she’s already seen a lot, done a lot and accomplished a lot.

The three-sport athlete at Dixon High School sees her high school days coming to an end but understands that end is just the beginning of what’s next. And, next for her is North Carolina State University, where she plans to major in microbiology. According to her softball coach, Christel Caliguire, Korenek is a well-rounded student athlete who cares about her teammates, classmates and community.

For those reasons, Korenek was named a recipient of the Heart of a Champion Award from the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). The award recognizes sportsmanship on the field and citizenship off it.

“It represents what I’ve done as a high school athlete over the last four years,” Korenek said. “Just knowing that what I’ve done the last four years was recognized by other people, these four years have been worth it. Yes, I know that in my heart it has been fulfilling to me, but I also appreciate when other people see that as well. I think high school athletics are very important. I’ve made a lot of friends through this, so having that recognized is really important to me.”

Each NCHSAA school nominated one male and one female athlete for the award. Korenek was one of 31 winners from across the state who attended an awards luncheon in Chapel Hill April 13.

Korenek said she found out she had won the award through a letter.

“I actually got a letter in the mail that I had received it, which was nice,” Korenek said. “So much stuff is automated and you get an email about it, but getting a letter is a little bit nicer and something you can hang on to.”

Korenek has played tennis, basketball and softball. So far this spring on the softball diamond, she’s batting .300 with a home run and 13 RBIs. As a part-time pitcher, she has a 1-0 record with one save, a 2.62 earned run average and five strikeouts.

The Heart of a Champion Award isn’t about statistics but how players conduct themselves during competition.

“There’s more to sportsmanship than just following the rules,” Korenek said. “I think it’s being kind and respectful toward umpires, toward your coaches, toward your fellow teammates and also your opponents. We’re all playing the same game in the end.”

And there’s an aspect of off-the-field involvement as well. For Korenek, that involves efforts to curb tobacco and drug use among students and in the community.

“That’s something I’ve had involvement with at my school in the past,” Korenek said. “It’s something that’s very important to me.”

Caliguire said Korenek is always looking out

for others.

“I’ve not met another child who has been as dedicated to every aspect of her life, from being a sister, to being an athlete, to a student, to a community service worker, competing in our HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) competitions,” Caliguire said. “She is nothing but heart.”

Caliguire said Korenek has helped fellow students with classwork before games because she cares about others.

“If somebody doesn’t have food, she’s giving them her snack or driving to pick something up or paying to get you something,” Caliguire said.

“To the core of her, she really is the heart of a champion because she’s willing to serve and give and be there for others in ways most kids this age don’t even recognize.

She’s just a phenomenal child, and she just works so hard and doesn’t take anything for granted. She works so hard, and desires to do it. It just comes from her own self-motivation.

She’s just a great kid and has been a pleasure to be around the last four years.”

Korenek thanked her teammates, fellow students, coaches and her parents, Martin Korenek, a natural resources manager on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune,

and C.J. Korenek, who works with Onslow County Schools.

As for the future, she’s interested in medical school, where she may focus on infectious diseases and public health, but for now, she’s just trying to enjoy her the final games of her high school career.

“I’ve never really had an offseason or had a time where I get to go home and don’t have practice,” Korenek said. “It’s going to be strange for the first time in five or six years that I’m going to go home and not have practice, and then I’m going to be in college. I’ve been definitely happy to be a part of Dixon sports. All my coaches have been very supportive over the past four years, both athletically and academically. It is bittersweet, but I’m definitely happy to start toward my career goals.”

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