Most college athletes spend their summers vacationing and preparing for the next season, very few spend it receiving a key to the city, unless you're Ricky Dobbs.
Dobbs, the starting quarterback for the U.S. Naval Academy, was honored by his hometown of Douglasville, Ga., with the key to the city on June 13.
"It means a lot," Dobbs said. "I take a lot of pride in where I am from and where I grew up. It means a lot to have them recognize me. It's blessing, an honor and a privilege."
There was a small banquet this past month to celebrate Dobbs' honor.
Dobbs says he doesn't get to spend too much time in Douglasville because of his busy school and football schedules, but he still calls it home. He spends a few weekends there during the summer and will be heading home for the 4th of July.
Dobbs said that the key to the city was more of a symbolic honor than anything else and made him realize that people in his home town are depending on him.
"The people [in Douglasville] are depending on me to be successful and I want to be conscious of the decisions I make," Dobbs said.
"My expectations for myself is to be the best I can be and maximize my own potential; and I expect the same from my teammates. Everything else will take care of itself," Dobbs said.
— Kaitlyn Carr
View from the top
A European tour with stops in Austria, France, Germany and Switzerland was how Loyola basketball player Melissa Bangay kicked off her summer vacation.
"The whole idea was to meet with different international companies to get a sense of marketing in general for big international corporations," said Bangay, who took the two-week trip with her international marketing class.
Bangay's class visited BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany, and in France they toured Euro Disney and later participated in a business seminar with Microsoft. She also found time for sightseeing, which included a paragliding excursion in the Swiss Alps.
"It was amazing," Bangay said. "I have video footage of the entire thing. It was ridiculous."
— Kaitlyn Carr
Skating through vacation
Take a trip to Wyatt Smith's Abingdon neighborhood this summer and you just might find the Baltimore City Community College basketball player ollying onto a curb and doing a 50-50 grind.
Smith, a 6-foot-5 small forward, returned to skating — one of his favorite childhood hobbies — about two months ago. He prefers to keep his tricks on the street, allowing him more freedom to improvise.
"I'm not really into the whole Tony Hawk thing," Smith said. "I feel like street is a lot more unique and individualized. You kind of just do your own thing and take on whatever's in front of you."
Smith, who lists the heel flip as his best trick, is also preparing for the upcoming season. He'll travel to New York City for the Juco Journal Northeast Invitational on July 10. Smith will also take a science class and hopes to study genetic engineering after earning his associate's degree at BCCC.
"I felt like that was something I could put a lot of time into and answer a lot of questions people have in life," he said.
— Colin Stevens
Ambassadors for the sport
Johns Hopkins defender Brooke Lipinski and her Blue Jays teammates opened their summer vacation with a championship.
Competing in Italy against teams from Prague, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, Hopkins represented the U.S. during a two-day lacrosse tournament in an attempt to garner more interest for the sport.
"It wasn't so much of this tight, intense lacrosse game that we're used to playing," Lipinski said. "I ended up, in one of the games, playing offense, which is something in a regular-season game you will never, ever find me doing. And at one point one of our goalies got on the field. She borrowed someone's goggles and grabbed a stick and just went out there and was running around."
Hopkins' trip wasn't just about lacrosse. The team traveled to Florence, Venice and Milan. One of the highlights of the trip came when the team learned to make pizza.
"Each of us got to put it into the big oven and pull it back out," Lipinski said. "A few of us had some mishaps where we dropped the stuff and made some holes in some pizzas. But other than that it went well."
— Colin Stevens
An educational vacation
The Stevenson women's soccer team will get a firsthand look at the intensity of the sport in Europe this summer when they play three exhibition games against Italian teams during a nine-day trip to Italy.
"I have no idea what the level of the teams we're playing against is, but I think it will be just so cool to actually say we played soccer in Italy," senior captain Allison Humphries said. "The people over there are crazy about soccer — football, as they call it. I hope that they have some fans out there and it'll be interesting to see how they get excited about the game and the sport."
During the tour, the Mustangs will do sight-seeing in between contests. They plan to take a gondola ride through Venice, visit Vatican City and stop by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Humphries and her teammates are also scheduled to teach physical education classes at a local school.
"Going over there, I didn't know much about Italian culture at all before I heard about this trip," Humphries said. "Me and some other girls have been listening to tapes in Italian and trying to get in that culture because it's important to go over there and be respectful of their culture, and in that way you're going to leave a good impression."
— Colin Stevens
At home while parents serve
Military families are accustomed to frequent changes in scenery, and Towson cross country runner Brandi Gervais says she's lived almost everywhere. But this summer, she is staying at Towson while her parents are across the globe serving a one-year term of service in Iraq.
"It's for sure the hardest thing I've had to go through in my entire life," she said. "I've been getting by because I have roommates that are living with me and are helping me out. But it's definitely one of those life things that's definitely going to make me mature."
Gervais tries to communicate with her parents as often as possible, using e-mail frequently and phone calls when it's convenient. Her parents' involvement in the military is something she admires and she hopes to one day follow in their footsteps.
"They taught me to be disciplined, and I think that goes a long way with what I've been able to achieve in my life. I really look up to them," she said.
Selected by ESPN The Magazine as a third-team Academic All-American for track and field and cross country, Gervais works as a tutor at Towson for anatomy, algebra and calculus during the summer and the school year.
Gervais is also taking care of her three dogs this summer while her parents are away instead of putting them in a kennel. She has little flexibility to travel, but she still hopes to make it to Colorado for a week of training before the end of summer.
— Colin StevensCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun