Neither Claire Ford of Notre Dame Prep nor Matt Stambaugh of Eastern Tech sought the spotlight in their high school sports careers.
On Monday night, however, both seniors found themselves literally bathed in it at the 74th Annual McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards in Hunt Valley.
Ford, who switched from shooting guard to point guard her senior year of basketball, and Stambaugh, who excelled as a guard in football despite his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame, each were named winners of the event's crowning prize, the Charles Perry McCormick Scholarship, worth $36,000 over four years.
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The two were among 113 seniors from 72 schools nominated for the award, which annually goes to a male football player and female basketball player who demonstrate "unselfish team play" and "contribute substantially to the success of their teams without receiving acclaim."
Ford, who plans to attend Maryland, helped her team to eight wins last season after giving up the glory of scoring to become her team's primary distributor. Winning this scholarship, however, gave her more time in the spotlight than she ever anticipated.
"I was shaking," Ford said. "I knew there were over 100 other fitting candidates. This is just really exciting."
NDP coach Katie Marks praised Ford for "her work ethic and her selfless attitude, despite almost always being the smallest person on the court."
Stambaugh, whose Eastern Tech team finished 5-5 last season, was equally shocked.
He said he never saw being small in stature as an obstacle in the trenches.
"It's just all about the technique," said Stambaugh, who plans to attend Stevenson. "It doesn't matter about your size. If you have the technique, you can do it."
"He probably will not play college football, but he will be an excellent father, son and community member for the rest of his life, and everyone that has been associated with him will be a better person," Mavericks coach Marc Mesaros said.
Player nominations came from coaches or athletic directors, and were then blindly evaluated by an independent judging panel.
Nominees for the 2014 Unsung Heroes Awards
Archbishop Curley: Football - Morgan McColgan
Archbishop Spalding: Basketball - Alexis Rowland, Football - Zachary Hill
Baltimore City College: Basketball - Koraan Sydnor, Football - Terrill Heath, Jr.
Baltimore Lutheran: Basketball - Catherine Bruzdzinski, Football - Tyler Woolsey
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute: Basketball - Jasmine Smith, Football - Dashaun Horshaw
Benjamin Franklin, Masonville Cove: Basketball - Raneshia Galloway
Bluford Drew Jemison: Football - Kyron Wallace