• Mitchell High School Athletic Director Jamie Bell, left, stands with “Female Athlete of the Year” Emma Duncan. Duncan is the second junior to earn the distinction in the 40-year history of Mitchell High School.
    Mitchell High School Athletic Director Jamie Bell, left, stands with “Female Athlete of the Year” Emma Duncan. Duncan is the second junior to earn the distinction in the 40-year history of Mitchell High School.

Duncan named ‘Female Athlete of the Year’

Becomes second underclassman to receive that distinction

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Kim Dayton Smith won the "Female Athlete of the Year" award her junior year in 1982 and senior year in 1983.

Mitchell High School junior Emma Duncan is proof hard work pays off.

Duncan this past May became the first underclassman since Kim Dayton Smith in 1982 to win the "Female Athlete of the Year" award in the 40-year existence of Mitchell High School.

A three-sport standout in basketball, track and volleyball, Duncan, 17, said she was surprised when she received the honor May 23 during Mitchell’s 2017 Awards Day.

“(Athletic Director Jamie Bell) told me all the coaches agreed,” she said. “He told me it had a lot to do with how hard I work.”

Duncan played basketball while in middle school at Harris and has been a member of the varsity Lady Mountaineers basketball team since her freshman year. She joined the track team to stay in shape during the offseason, a stipulation from former Lady Mountaineer Head Coach Emily Paffrath-Hyatte.

The 5-foot, 3-inch guard said she does a lot to improve her game. She is frequently in the gym, routinely attends basketball camps such as the one this past weekend at Wingate and often has shootarounds with former Mitchell standout Ryan Cook.

Duncan is excited about the coming season under Head Coach Zack McCartha, who is entering his second season at Mitchell.

“He’s really turning our program around,” Duncan said. “We are headed in the right direction.”

Duncan averaged double-digit points per game her sophomore and junior seasons with 11.9 and 12.7, respectively. She was a member of Mitchell’s 4x400-meter relay team that finished sixth May 20 in the 1A state track championship.

“I have to give all glory to God,” Duncan said. “It is all him. It is not me.”

Duncan is the daughter of Brock and Renee, of Spruce Pine.

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