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As orthopedic and sports medicine experts at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute, we have treated thousands of athletes. And we know the incredible amount of work, determination and dedication that it takes to return to the playing field after an injury.

That’s why we're proud to offer the annual Comeback Athlete of the Year Scholarship that aims to honor athletes who have returned to competition after a serious injury. The student-athlete who best exemplifies the comeback spirit will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship.


  1. Open to student-athletes in their senior year of high school who attend one of the Union County Public Schools High Schools and will be attending college in the upcoming school year.
  2. Candidates must have suffered an injury serious enough to interrupt athletic participation (team practices, games or individual workouts) for at least 2 months. This injury should have occurred during your high school playing career.
  3. Athletes must compete and distinguish themselves in at least 1 varsity high school sport following their injury. The most important factor the judges will be looking for is whether the athlete reached their fullest athletic potential after their injury. Receiving all-star recognition at the district, regional or state level is not a prerequisite to winning this award.

The Award

The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship paid to their college or university and a commemorative plaque.

Apply Here

Application Process

  1. Athletic directors at eligible high schools will receive application forms in the spring. Forms will also be available online.
  2. Please complete applications in full by May 10, 2024. Please note that applications will not be eligible if received after May 10.
  3. To apply for the scholarship must submit a completed application form, a 1-page essay and a recommendation form.
  4. A committee representative of Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute and Union County Public Schools will review the nominations.
  5. We will notify the winning athlete and schools in late May.

Selection Criteria

  1. Athletic excellence
    We will look for the following:
    • Team awards (MVP honors and others)
    • League awards
    • All-District, All-Region or All-State recognition
    • Media awards
  2. Severity of injury and rehabilitation time. A coach, physician, certified athletic trainer or physical therapist must verify the severity of the injury and the time spent in rehabilitation.
  3. Applicants must write a 1-page (250-300 word) essay describing why they believe they should receive this award. This can be uploaded on the application page.
  4. Recommendation letter is required from at least one of the following:
    • Head coach(es)
    • Athletic director
    • Athletic trainer

If the athlete played more than 1 varsity sport during or after rehabilitation, each coach should complete a recommendation form. Supporting material and extra recommendations are not necessary, although we will accept them. Please submit additional recommendations on the application page.