The McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards Banquet holds a special place in Poly girls basketball coach Kendall Peace-Able's heart.
Not only has she been to the banquet 11 times as a coach with her team's nominee, but in her senior year at Poly, Peace-Able was a candidate for the award that honors unsung heroes on football and girls basketball teams from Baltimore City and Baltimore County public, private and parochial high schools.
"It's their shining moment," Peace-Able said. "You're that one person extracted from your team to represent everything good, upstanding and wholesome about being an athlete and doing your absolute best at all times for somebody other than yourself."
Monday night at the Hunt Valley Inn, 113 deserving seniors from 72 schools will gather for the 74th annual awards banquet. One boy and one girl will be honored with Charles Perry McCormick Scholarships worth $36,000 each over four years.
Both of last year's winners hailed from Baltimore County -- Dulaney's Sarah Dorl and Towson's James Frieson. Like Peace-Able in 1996, they made key contributions to their teams that were not fully reflected in box scores.
"It's a big deal," Peace-Able said of the banquet. "I played with a bunch of girls who already played a lot [when they got to high school], so for me to grow as much as I did having started to play a year before I got in high school was a big deal to me. I never averaged the numbers that they averaged, but I was just as much a key to that success as they were. It's always been something very close to me, because I experienced it."
The Engineers won the Baltimore City championship in Peace-Able's senior year and she coached them to their next city title in 2012 as well as this past season.
One of the best parts of the banquest is the guest speaker, Peace-Able said.
This year, best-selling author and athlete Kyle Maynard will address the unsung heroes and guests. Maynard, 28, was born with congenital amputation. His arms end at his elbows and his legs end at his knees, but he has a full resume of athletic accomplishments that includes climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Peace-Able, the 2012 All-Metro girls basketball Coach of the Year, said she has taken something away from every speaker she has heard at the banquets, from Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton in her senior year to C. Vivian Stringer, the trailblazing Hall of Fame Rutgers women's basketball coach, a few years ago.
"You get an opportunity to meet with somebody who has either impacted athletes or had an impactful life in some kind of way," she said, "so it gives the athlete a renewed spirit to go into the next day a little bit differently.
"They're very confident in what they've been to their team and to their program and they need that confidence going to the next place which is, for most of them, getting ready to go to college, which is a very fearful stage for any high school senior."
More than 700 government officials, school administratrors, coaches, student-athletes and guests are expected at Monday night's event.
Established for football players in 1940 by then-McCormick CEO Charles P. McCormick, the event "recognizes unselfish team play and honors those who contribute substantially to the success of their teams without receiving acclaim." The banquet expanded to include girls basketball players in 1986.
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
Boys' Latin: Football - Michael Whitehurst
Bryn Mawr: Basketball - Alexa Philippou
Calvert Hall:Football - Nicholas Auvil
Carver A&T: Basketball - Kristina Brown
Carver Vo-Tech: Basketball - Tyearna Fullard, Football - Ian Anderson
Catholic High: Basketball - Courtney Torbeck
Catonsville: Basketball - Breya Wallace
Chesapeake-BC: Basketball - Taylor Barnett, Football - Nate Montgomery
Digital Harbor: Basketball - Jennifer Jones, Football - Wayne Smith, Jr.
Dulaney: Basketball - Francesca Brancati, Football - Blaik Thompson
Dunbar: Basketball - Leslie Ann James, Football - Eddie Nelson
Dundalk: Basketball - Saeida DeJesus, Football - Shane Dial
Eastern Technical: Football - Matt Stambaugh
Edmondson: Football - Taje Langston
Forest Park: Basketball - Shaunta Brown, Football - Daquan Ritch
Franklin: Basketball - Precious Ross, Football - Alexander Webb
Frederick Douglass: Football - Darnell Edwards, Jr.
Friends: Basketball- Rose Woolson, Football - Charlie Emrich
FAET: Football - Keith Luck, Jr.
Garrison Forest: Basketball - Luci Shepherd
Gilman: Football - Dale Waters
Hereford: Basketball - Kendra Herbenar, Football - Wyatt Bosley
Institute of Notre Dame: Basketball - Brooke Fields
John Carroll: Basketball - Haley Kyger, Football - Andrew Reininger
Kenwood: Basketball - Starr Speller, Football - Davin Harris
Lake Clifton: Basketball - Elexis Faulkner, Football - Corey Claybon, Jr.
Lansdowne: Basketball - Miranda Ritter, Football - Brian Voyce
Loch Raven: Basketball - Courtney Genovese, Football - Robert Lease
Loyola: Football - Tommy Baird
Maritime Industries: Football - Shakyrys Charles
Maryvale: Basketball - Kalyn Crocetti
McDonogh: Basketball - Maya Wynn, Football - Dan Tiberii
Mercy : Basketball - Kristina Bayton
Mervo: Basketball - Jasmine Henley, Football - Joshua Holley
Milford Mill: Basketball - Krishea Thompson, Football - Rashawd Thompson
Mount de Sales: Basketball - Anne Tavera
Mount Saint Joseph: Football - Shane Lowman
National Academy Foundation: Basketball - Keehyn Fields, Football - Kieron Robinson
New Town: Basketball - Tiana Davis, Football - DaMarco Spears
Northwestern: Basketball - Shantae Byro, Football - Kali Tyree
Notre Dame Prep: Basketball - Claire Ford
Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Football - Kody Dietsch
Overlea: High Basketball - Meaira McPherson, Football - Ibn Moore
Owings Mills: Basketball - Briana Forbes, Football - Ja Juan Rhue
Parkville: Basketball - Catherine Nicholl, Football - Key Dennis
Patapsco: Basketball - Savannah Clough, Football - Brandon Benner
Patterson: Basketball - Tanesha Smith, Football - Mackramat Egborebhe
Perry Hall: Basketball - Stephanie Roche, Football - Patrick Whitty
Pikesville:Basketball - Nicole Elover, Football - Jay Shaw
Randallstown: Basketball - D'Anna Dawson, Football - Rashid Tallie
Reginald F. Lewis: Basketball- Mela nie Dodd, Football - Alexander Bullock
Roland Park: Basketball - Tatyana Carter
Seton Keough: Basketball - Caitlin Alley
Severn: Basketball - Lauren Manning, Football - Brian Dennin
Southwestern High: Basketball - Angel Williams, Football - Darius Thorpe
Sparrows Point: Basketball - Kelsey Baumgart, Football - Christopher Byrd, Jr.
St. Frances: Football - Justin Rogers
St. Mary's: Basketball - Maria Sanchez, Football - Hunter Sears
St. Paul's: Football - Henry Ford
St. Timothy's: Football - Morgan Berman
Towson: Basketball - Aylish Ptak, Football - Davey Thomas
W.E.B. DuBois: Football - Terry Brown
Western: Basketball - Maya Lee
Western Tech: Basketball - Sheena McKnight, Football - Sean Bhatia
Woodlawn: Basketball - Dorshera Queen, Football - Xavier BrooksCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun