Monday, August 26, 2019






Former Alabama Student-athlete Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2019) — Zoe Portis, a 2018 graduate of Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery, Alabama, has been selected as the Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.

Born in a small Ethiopian village, Portis’ mother died in childbirth, and her grandmother and father died before she attended school. Essentially an orphan, she moved in with another family, where she became a servant.

Portis was then asked if she was interested in a possible adoption by an American family. That led to an interview and a move to an orphanage to await a family match. She then received a callback that a family in Montgomery, Alabama wanted to adopt her. Cole and Joy Portis already had three biological children before deciding to adopt, and they have since adopted seven children.

When Portis arrived in Montgomery, she didn’t speak any English. A combination of tutoring, living with a large family and watching American television helped her learn the language. As a National Honor Society student at Trinity, Portis maintained a 3.75 grade-point average, was class president for three years and was SGA president during her senior year.

Portis also was a standout athlete in high school, where she participated in basketball and soccer. A three-year varsity basketball team member, Portis received the Varsity Basketball Wildcat Award as a junior. She played four years of varsity soccer, during which time the Trinity squad placed third in the Alabama High School Athletic Association tournament her freshman year; reached the quarterfinals during her sophomore year; and won the state championship her senior year with a 23-2-2 win-loss record. In 2018, she was named the AHSAA Class 4A Bryant-Jordan Award Program Student-Athlete Achievement Winner.


About the Award

The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 3 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.

While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.


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About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; produces publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, speech and debate coaches and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at




MEDIA CONTACT:                          John Gillis, 317-972-6900

                                                      National Federation of State High School Associations

                                                      PO Box 690, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206


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