C. Milton Wright's Abby Smucker and Fallston's Marc Badger were named this year's female and male recipients of the annual $5,000 Al Cesky Scholarship at the banquet Wednesday night.
Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood was packed front to back for this year's event, the 28th since the Al Cesky Scholarship fund began in 1986, and hosted 24 scholar athletes from Harford County's 12 public and private schools. Each student selected received a $2,000 scholarship.
Smucker, who was sporting a fresh scrape on her knee she received in the CMW girls lacrosse team's 15-14 regional title game victory over North Harford earlier that day, thanked her parents, coaches and teammates in a speech she said was half prepared, half improvised.
"It was a little bit of both," Smucker said after the banquet. "When I heard my name called, I had to take a breath and tell myself, 'this is really happening.' It was a bit surreal. To be up there with so many talented people was an honor. Anyone of us could have won. I'm really happy and honored to have been selected."
A four-year starter on CMW's girls soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams, Smucker was a captain on all three squads during her junior and senior years. As a student, Smucker will graduate ninth in the CMW's Class of 2013. She has been awarded the Academic Excellence Award three years running and is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to attend Penn State University, where she is going to study biology.
Badger was not at the banquet to accept his award because he was with the Fallston boys lacrosse team that was busy beating the Cambridge-South Dorchester team, 17-5, in the 1A/2A East regional title game. Sean McCone, the Al Cesky Scholarship Fund president, who explained how the winners were selected before announcing their names, said this year's banquet marked the first time a $5,000 scholarship recipient was not able to attend because of sports obligations. Fallston assistant principal Eileen Turowski stepped to the podium to accept the award for Badger.
"I'm sure Marc would want to thank his coaches, for all their guidance over the last four years of his career," Turowski said. "I'm sure he'd also like to thank his mom and dad, who I'm sure are in Cambridge as well, as they have not missed a game, that I know of, in Marc's high school career. They are very loyal Cougar fans. And, he'd thank the Cesky foundation for this honor. Thanks, from Marc."
Fallston football's all-time leading rusher and scorer with 4,075 yards and 272 points, Badger has been a first-team selection to The Aegis All-Harford lacrosse and football teams. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the distinguished honor roll in every quarter of his high school career. In the fall, he will begin his college career at the University of Richmond, where he will study business and economics.
The featured speaker at Wednesday's banquet was Baltimore Colts' legend Tom Matte, who played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the former Baltimore club. Matte gave personal anecdotes about being forced to serve as the Colts' emergency quarterback during the 1965 season, and how he made sure to complete his studies at Ohio State University. He urged the student athletes in attendance to get the most out of their college careers.
Recipients of this year's $2,000 scholarships are: Kara Andrews, Edgewood; Caleb Anderson, John Carroll; Helen Boniface, Havre de Grace; Sarah DiMaggio, Fallston; Michael Chojnacki, Bel Air; Rebecca Driver, John Carroll; Brad Davidson, Havre de Grace; Leah Edwards, Harford Christian; Randy Foster, North Harford; Haley Jacobs, North Harford; Isaiah Gills, Harford Tech; Brionna Jones, Aberdeen; Micah Jaffe, Aberdeen; Brooke Lorber, Bel Air; Kevin Kinyua, Joppatowne; Stephanie McCartney, Patterson Mill; Griffin Marge, Patterson Mill; Cee Singleton, Harford Tech; Stephan Olaya, C. Milton Wright; Mike Ryan, Edgewood; Chelsey Tarnowski, Joppatowne; and John Wilson, Harford Christian.