The best part about all-star games for those involved, even at the professional level, is not the honor of being picked, the "competition" in an essentially meaningless game or even the contract bonuses.
Players say the best part is being around other great players, many of whom they know little about.
It was a little bit like that on Tuesday at the inaugural Carroll County Times High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet.
We invited our Player of the Year award winners as well as 10 of the best multi-sport athletes in Carroll (as well as all of our coaches of the year). From the nods of recognition when various statistics were read to the hearty applause to the interaction from those who play totally unrelated sports in different areas of the county, mutual appreciation was evident.
The best athletes are focused on their own sport, so one can understand a soccer player not knowing much about football or a basketball player missing a few stories about indoor track or a lacrosse player who isn't an expert on tennis.
"I don't really get to hear about other people's sports, so it's nice to hear what they're doing also and they get to know what we do," Softball Player of the Year Mackenzie Thompson, of Liberty, said.
That sentiment was shared by many. There's probably never been a gathering of a more talented and diverse group of county athletes. Consider just a few of their accomplishments:
• Westminster football player Deryk Kern set an all-time state record with 63 touchdown passes, bettering the old mark by more than 10 percent;
• North Carroll's Valerie Mizansky was a first-team all-countian in soccer, never lost a 55-meter race in indoor track and won two state outdoor titles;
• Century track star Julian Woods won every event he entered in the county, region and state meets, going a perfect 12-for-12;
• Manchester Valley's Sarah Bach was first-team in field hockey, the county's leading rebounder and a state discus champion.
• Century's Ryder Cavey was a four-time first-team all-countian (offense and defense in football, wrestling and boys lacrosse);
• Francis Scott Key's Bradley Schug and Liberty's Megan Soderlund won 24 and 22 consecutive tennis matches, respectively;
• South Carroll's Steven Schmitz wrestled to a 43-0 record, winning county, region and state titles without ever being taken down.
• Westminster's Trevor Houck won the batting Triple Crown and Thompson nearly did the same - and both are best-known as pitchers.
Kern and Mizansky won our top honors but every one of the athletes at the banquet had an impressive resume. It was fun to see other top athletes take note of those resumes. Woods summed it up perfectly.
"We all love sports, sports are great," he said. "And I love being here tonight with everyone else."