The Vandalia Leader

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Athlete of the Week

Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 9:14 pm

By Brandie Gay

Special to The Vandalia Leader

The name Wilburn is familiar at Van-Far. Caden and Colin Wilburn were both on the back-to-back state teams, 2018 with a first place and 2019 with a third place. Like her older brothers, Carmen Wilburn has many accomplishments in her four years at Van-Far. Currently; Carmen is a senior at Van-Far High School and is playing basketball for Coach Heather Minter.

In sports, Carmen has racked up many accomplishments for the Lady Indians. In her athletic career at Van-Far, she has played softball and basketball all four years and track for one year. In softball, Carmen has been named to the Academic All-Conference and All District Team all four years, and Academic All State for three, and has been a team captain for two years. This year alone, she was honored with the Lady Indians Varsity MVP and the Golden Glove award.

Despite her setback last year with a foot injury, Carmen played most of the season to help her teammate Mara Jensen score her 1,000 points. During her basketball career she has been named Academic All-Conference for three years and also a team captain for two years. Carmen’s freshman year she also was named Academic All-Conference in track.

Coach Heather Minter said, “Carmen is just an all-around great kid; you don’t have to worry about her grades nor her getting into trouble. She comes from a great family that expects you to do right and give your best in everything you do. She has definitely stepped up and led this young group of girls. I know she will have a bright future and I look forward to watching her grow and be successful.”

Other activities Carmen is involved with are FFA, Student Council, National Honor Society, Class Officer, A+, Booster Club and a Rotary Youth Leadership Award Winner.

FFA is a passion of the Wilburn Family. Carmen is a fourth generation to her family’s hog and row crop farm. She helps her dad and brothers on the farm in all aspects.

She is currently or has been FFA president, first vice president, and reporter. She has placed third at the State Fall Speaking in 2022, second in District Fall Speaking in 2023, and was selected to attend HYPE, Teach Ag Academy, and Public Speaking Academy.

Carmen is currently serving as Area V FFA – treasurer 2023-2024.

Carmen’s FFA adviser and teacher, Ashlee Crader, said, “If I could describe Carmen in one word it would be dedicated. Carmen is dedicated to everything that she participates in, and always gives 110%. I have had the pleasure of having Carmen as an agriculture student and FFA officer. Carmen truly lives out the last line of the FFA motto: living to serve.”

She added that, “Carmen is a unique kind of leader; she isn’t always the loudest speaker or the leader that is always up front. She is the kind of leader, on and off the court, that when she does speak she speaks with power. Carmen does an amazing job at balancing sports, FFA and her school work. She is one that younger members and athletes should look towards as inspiration. I have had the pleasure of watching her grow the last four years as a tremendous athlete, student, and person.”

Along with sports and other activities, Carmen has done an amazing amount of volunteering for her local community.

Carmen said that she has always been active in helping her community. She has stocked concession stands for both of the youth summer ball teams and the high school athletics.

Carmen also helps set up and take down the school’s spirit flags throughout town when they have events. During the local YMCA Community Day, Carmen said she helps teach local children about tool safety. During the town’s Memorial Day celebrations, Carmen also takes chairs to set up and put flags out on veterans’ graves. She also helps at the local historical society’s card night by serving food.

Carmen said the biggest impact she has had on her community is through meals on wheels, where every other Monday she delivers meals to the elderly in need.

She said that seeing the their faces light up and having small conversations with them while walking in with food, gives her great pride.

Carmen is also a DAR Good Citizen Award winner. The four qualities of a DAR Good Citizen are extremely important in everyone’s lives. Dependability is one of the most important qualities to have. Whether you’re going to work or being there for a friend it is important for people to be able to count on you. Carmen shows dependability by always offering a helping hand when she is able. Service is important because it not only helps others but helps you grow as well. Service can help you develop empathy and leadership skills from a hands-on approach, while also helping people in need.

She serves many different groups within her community. This service has helped her develop relationships, become more compassionate, and thoughtful.

“Leadership is a very important quality,” Carmen added. “Every group needs a good effective leader, an effective leader keeps the group on task, helps communicate, and provides guidance.”

Carmen said she is a leader in many different ways, from her athletic teams to her officer teams.

She shows leadership by communicating, motivating, and helping her teams reach their goals.

The fourth quality is Patriotism. Patriotism brings our country together. Patriots feel hope and pride in our country.

Carmen said she shows patriotism by helping run her school’s Veterans Day Assemblies, and helping set up the town’s Memorial Day Program.

Carmen plans to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia to major in agriculture education-teacher certification. After graduation, she plans to become an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser. Carmen said that her FFA and agriculture teacher have given her so many opportunities and helped her develop into the person she is today. Her hopes are to be someone her future students can look to, while she helps them reach their full potential.