BOONVILLE - With the state playoffs right around the corner, the Lady Rams will be taking a step aside from conference play to honor one of their own.
Starmount will host a benefit tri-match Saturday for former volleyball standout Meme Brown, who has been battling ovarian cancer for four years. The fundraiser will raise money for Brown and her family to help cover medical expenses.
Brown, a 2009 graduate of Starmount, was a four-year starter for head coach Jon Symons. As a middle blocking specialist, she earned all-conference honors her final two seasons and an honorable mention all-conference as a sophomore.
Brown was a integral part of the Lady Rams’ three-straight trips to the 2A Western Regional final in 2006-08, including starting in the state title game in Raleigh in ‘07.
In addition to volleyball, the Boonville native also played basketball for Starmount for four seasons, suiting up for varsity her final three years. She also ran track as a junior and senior, which included running a leg on two all-conference relay teams, the 4x200 and 4x400 in 2008.
Following graduation, Brown signed her official letter of intent to play volleyball at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk.
But the deadly disease cut her collegiate career short, as Brown was only able to play two seasons for the Bobcats in 2009 and 2010. During her time at Lees-McRae, she posted 71 kills, 33 blocks, 18 digs and 19 service aces in only 32 matches played.
While talking about his former player, a teary-eyed Symons said he tries to get his current Rams to emulate Brown’s work ethic on the court and in the gym.
“It’s hard to talk about her. She played for me for four years,” he said. “I never had a kid who worked harder than Meme. As a person, I tell my kids, if you want to emulate someone in their work ethic, it would be Meme. She’s a fun kid; she always played with energy and was always happy.
“She’s battling right now, and we’re proud of her fight. We’re hoping the best for her. It’s a tough battle for her, but we’re always thinking about her,” Symons added.
The Rams have been donning teal headbands, ribbons and shoelaces (the color of ovarian cancer awareness) this year and have dedicated the season to their former player, something Symons said was an “important deal to these kids.”
Starmount will host 3A and 4A powerhouses Carson and Reagan in the tri-match, which tips off at 10 a.m., at the high school gym. The Lady Rams will take on Carson in the first match before closing out the event against Reagan around 1 p.m.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.