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Ashley Birdsong Recognized with Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award

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Posted on February 4, 2019

With over 2,000 onlookers, High School Senior Ashley Birdsong was recognized with the Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award and presented with a $1,000 check which was donated to King High School’s athletic department. Vanguard Attorney Sean Shaw, who ran for Florida Attorney General in 2018 and who was the first African-American nominee for Attorney General in the history of the State of Florida presented the award to Ashley during a pep rally in which the entire school was present.

An outstanding student-athlete and captain of the Varsity Golf Team, Ashley Birdsong was honored with the Swope Rodante Vanguard Award because of her integrity and dedication to making a positive impact within our community.

In addition to excelling academically and athletically, Ashley selflessly gives back to the community, serving as President of the Temple Terrace Juniorettes and helping to organize and mobilize as a Relay for Life Team Captain. Even with a demanding schedule and her role as Key Club member and President of the National Honor Society, Ashley has maintained a GPA of 5.5. A captain on King High School’s golf team, Birdsong has led the Lady Lions to four District Championships, two Regional Championships, and to that Class 2A State Championship the past three years consecutively.

As a young child, Birdsong struggled with a challenging speech impediment and surgery was discussed as means of improving the acute lisp she was experiencing. Fortunately, through therapy and special exercises, Ashley was able to overcome this adversity and now uses her voice as a leader on her team. Despite her numerous accolades, her coach Barrett Zebos, who nominated her for the award, recognizes her heart and explains how she “always welcomes new members to the team and makes them feel they are part of a special program and the King Golf family. She is well respected by opponents and coaches alike.”

The mission of The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award is to celebrate outstanding high school student-athletes throughout Hillsborough County who excel in academics, athletics, and in the community. The winner is presented with an award as well as a $1,000 check to be donated to the school’s athletic department on the student’s behalf.

The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award Selection Board is comprised of Tampa Bay business leaders and educational professionals including The Honorable Sean Shaw, NFL All–Pro and three-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, award-winning journalist and News Channel 8 anchor, Rod Carter, former State Senator and civil rights supporter, Arthenia Joyner, former State Representative and business leader Bob Henriquez, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ryan Nece, High School Football Coach Preston Jackson, Tampa Mayoral Candidate Mike Suarez, Tampa Bay business leader and Ernst & Young team member, Sarah Carlson, founding member of The Skills Center Ken Roberts and retired police Major, Gerald Honeywell.

To learn more about the Swope Rodante Vanguard Award or to nominate a student-athlete or coach, click here.