"There was no early polling back then," he said.
Now vice president and general counsel for Howard, he continues to support the Scholar Athlete event.
"I bought an ad in this year's program for my wife's medical practice," he said.
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Adding to future success
Nowadays, he stands before rooms filled with cadets and lectures on advanced calculus at the Air Force Academy. But in 1989, Tom Boushell shuddered when asked to give an acceptance speech at the Scholar Athlete banquet.
"It was a nerve-wracking time. I wasn't comfortable, talking in front of people," Boushell said.
Such is the price of celebrity. Boushell, a receiver for Perry Hall, took top honors at the ceremony as a senior and then addressed the crowd.
"I don't recall what I said, but I'm glad there's no video of it," he said. "I do know that [the award] was the culmination of a roller-coaster week. I'd just won a state wrestling championship and gotten a rejection letter from the University of North Carolina."
Instead, Boushell attended Air Force, where he starred in lacrosse and sought to become an astronaut. Passed up for pilot training, he earned a doctorate in industrial engineering, rose to lieutenant colonel and now ranks No. 2 in the math department at the Academy.
In addition to overseeing some 50 instructors, he tutors Air Force athletes and accompanies the football, basketball and baseball teams on road trips. Tongue-tied no more, he still has his commemorative Scholar Athlete plaque and bowl — validation of his hard work at Perry Hall, where he ranked 10th in a graduating class of more than 400.
"It would be great to have gone into space," Boushell, 41, said. "But I've got a wife and four daughters. My life is wonderful and I wouldn't change it."
'Take it to another level'
"It's always neat to be the first, but … has it been 50 years? C'mon," Jim Fava said.
On March 11, 1964, Fava — a halfback and linebacker at Severna Park — beat out 30 contenders for the first Scholar Athlete award at the Sheraton-Belvedere Hotel.
Art Donovan, the Baltimore Colts defensive tackle, handed Fava his plaque. Harry Stuhldreher, Notre Dame's All-American quarterback in the 1920s, spoke to the 400 guests. And all 31 entrants received a free trip to the New York World's Fair.
While the affair has since grown, its premise hasn't changed, said Fava, 66, of West Chester, Pa.
"That this thing has continued shows that the idea was right," he said. "High school is a very unsure time for kids, and that award gave me confidence to continue on the path I was on, which was one of diversity because life isn't just about athletics."
College proved it, he said.
"I thought I was a pretty good athlete in high school, but when I got to Maryland, I was put in my place pretty quickly," Fava said. "Those football players were twice my size, super athletes, and there was no way I was going to go out there and let them knock the hell out of me."
At College Park, Fava earned an undergraduate degree in zoology, a master's in fisheries biology and a doctorate in environmental science. He's now senior director for an international firm that helps companies understand the environmental impacts of their products.
His advice to this year's scholar athletes?
"Winning the award is great, but do something with it," Fava said. "Leverage it, in positive fashion, to change your life. Take it to another level."