Connor Joyce stood inside the Ravens' team locker room on Thursday morning, smiling and taking pictures in front of a locker with his name on it.

A wrestling singlet and baseball and soccer jerseys hung on display in that locker, representing the sports Joyce, a senior, played at Broadneck.

Joyce and 12 other high-school student athletes were invited to M&T Bank Stadium for a luncheon in their honor on Thursday. The 13 prep stars — four of whom are from the Baltimore metropolitan area — were awarded Minds In Motion Scholarships by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and Allstate Foundation.

"I was pretty excited about it," Joyce said. "I knew there was going to be a large pool of applicants and there was going to be a lot of kids who were very qualified.


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"I've always been focused on both [athletics and academics], so it's cool to be recognized for both."

Along with Joyce, Erin Causey (Hereford), Stelios Mastoras (Poly) and Emma Norman (Loch Raven) were local recipients of the award, a $1,000 college scholarship.

Joyce's path to winning the award was especially challenging. At a summer camp before eighth grade, he said he was messing around on a roof, fell off and landed on his head. He said he was flown by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where doctors performed emergency brain surgery.

"They saved my life," Joyce said.

The remainder of that summer was, in his words, pretty boring. Joyce wasn't allowed to do simple things, like watch television or leave his couch. He spent most days piecing puzzles together.

It was a slow process, but by that next fall, when soccer season hit the calendar, he was ready to play. He had to wear protective headgear for when he headed the ball.

By that winter, there were no more residual headaches, which meant Joyce was clear for wrestling season.

"Here, we had this athletic kid who's close to starting his high school career, and we thought he might die," his mother, Amber Joyce, said. "When he started high school, we weren't sure he'd be able to do all of the stuff that he did.

"It was a blessing."

Joyce and other recipients were selected from a pool of more than 600 applicants. Those selected maintained a minimum 3.25 unweighted grade point average and participated in interscholastic athletics.

Now in its seventh year, the luncheon featured a keynote address by Dr. Yvette Rooks, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"Life will happen," she said during her speech. "It will happen in different ways, for all of you. ... Your access to success has no real limits."

Those words carried special meaning for Joyce. He plans to use his Minds in Motion Scholarship, along with others he's earned, to continue his wrestling career at Johns Hopkins.

"It's obviously a very close school, and it's a very good school, so it was always near the top of my list," Joyce said. "I've always had it in mind." 

cgoodwin@baltsun.com

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