A Tennessee United soccer player who inspired her teammates to raise nearly $2,000 for a local food pantry and a long time Hendersonville Soccer Club coach were recently awarded the 2020 Jameson Wharton Sportsmanship Award by the Hendersonville Parks Board.
Makenna Brown, a senior at Merrol Hyde Magnet School, and HSC Coach Judy Georgen were recognized during the Feb. 22 parks board meeting for going above and beyond in their sport, both on and off the field.
The city’s parks board and staff started the “Honor the Game” sportsmanship program in the spring of 2019 as a way to recognize those who show positive sportsmanship conduct throughout the department’s leagues and programs.
At the end of each year, a committee selects a youth and an adult who go above and beyond with an award named for local teen Jameson Wharton.
Wharton created the annual event “Football for the Cure,” in 2014 at the age of 10. Held each year at Drake’s Creek Park, the flag football event has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.
Wharton was on-hand for the award presentations that were made last month via Zoom.
A TUSC player for 10 years, Brown initiated a food drive for the Little Pantry That Could, a Nashville non-profit organization that provides food assistance to around 250 families a week.
“In addition to Makenna’s efforts to collect food and raise money to purchase food, the entire TUSC organization joined to help Makenna in her efforts,” wrote TUSC Coach Andrew Fish in his letter to the award selection committee.
During the presentation, Fish praised Brown for her strong work ethic and desire to help others.
“I hope my kid can grow up to have the same kind of heart she has,” he said.
Brown said she was appreciative of the honor, but admitted the fundraising was a team effort.
“I definitely didn’t do it alone,” she said, mentioning her friends at Merrol Hyde Magnet School and her soccer club teammates.
“I was nervous about reaching out to the entire soccer club, but it was worth it,” she said.
The teen added she plans to continue helping those in need.
“I would like to keep going,” she said. “I don’t want to stop because hunger doesn’t stop for anyone either.”
Hendersonville Soccer Club Coach Judy Georgen received several nominations for the honor, according to parks board member Thom Golden who helped start the “Honor the Game” program.
“Coach Judy has been a coach in HSC for many years,” said Hendersonville Soccer Club U-15 Director Craig Shelley.
Shelley added that Georgen sets the standard for a volunteer coach with her devotion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the game.
“The players are so responsive to her — they ask season after season to have her again. That’s a testament to her as a coach,” he said. “You would be hard pressed to find someone who has more love for the game than Judy does. And there’s no quit. [She] is nothing but a champion for the game.”
Georgen said she was “honored, humbled and very proud” to receive the award.
“My coaching experience with HSC has taught me so much and has brought me some of the most rewarding memories of my life,” she said. “I can’t imagine a better community to be a coach for.”