Athletes of the Year Jalen Stanton, left, of Century, and Erin Snyder, of Winters Mill, hold their trophies at the Carroll County Times High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet at Martin's Westminster.
Athletes of the Year Jalen Stanton, left, of Century, and Erin Snyder, of Winters Mill, hold their trophies at the Carroll County Times High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet at Martin's Westminster. (Steve Ruark / For the Carroll County Times)

In the sports department, we define the school year a little differently than many parents, teachers, and students do.

It begins in earnest, for us, in early August on the first day of tryouts for fall sports. And it comes to a close on Memorial Day weekend, culminating with the state track meet (and a few other sites, if Carroll County has state championship representation in either baseball, softball or tennis).

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It’s nine months of 21 sports — eight in the fall, five in the winter and eight more in the spring. At the end of each sports season, the Times recognizes the top athletes (and coaches) with its All-County and Player of the Year packages. We take a lot of pride in putting them together. And while they’re always up for debate with our readers and local sports fans, we consider them a special way to cap each season.

But there’s one more thing we do to honor the best of the best.

For the past seven years, we’ve held the Carroll County Times High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet in June, a gathering of the top athletes and coaches in each sport. It’s our way of doling out kudos one more time, before many of those athletes take their talents to the college level.

High school sports is, and always will be, what we’re most known for. And we want to showcase it whenever we can.

Just like the all-county teams, we put a lot of effort and thought into the banquet. We’re fortunate enough to connect with local sponsors, and that helps us make the event even better.

This year’s banquet was no exception.

High School Sports: Jalen Stanton, Erin Snyder honored as top athletes at annual Times awards banquet

Century's Jalen Stanton and Winters Mill's Erin Snyder were honored at the Times High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet at Martin's Westminster.

Becky Martin, former women’s basketball coach at McDaniel College, agreed to be our guest speaker. She retired this year, and stepped down as coach after last season after being diagnosed with cancer.

Martin’s 15 minutes on the dais held everyone’s attention, and rightfully so. She had plenty of stories and inspiration to share, and we’re grateful for it.

She also agreed to pose for pictures with each honored coach and athlete once they came up to receive their awards. I hope they become keepsakes for people.

The banquet is held to honor Carroll’s top high school sports figures, and this county has its share. The event helps you pause and take some time to reflect on everyone’s accomplishments.

Each year there are a handful of special standout performances, and athletes’ resumes, that deserve the recognition.

This county might never see the likes of Jalen Stanton again, or at least not anytime soon. The Century High School track standout, our Boys Athlete of the Year, also shined in football and lacrosse, and he set records and earned titles at the highest level along the way.

And Winters Mill’s Erin Snyder, our Girls Athlete of the Year, impressed as a repeat first-team all-countian and county champion in soccer, in addition to earning first-team all-county honors in basketball.

Or what about over at Liberty, where the boys cross country team has won four straight state titles and the tennis teams are in the middle of lengthy winning streaks?

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And then there’s Westminster’s lacrosse — the boys and girls teams repeated together as Class 3A state champs, and the boys pushed their win streak to 37 games in a row.

The fall saw three football teams make the regional playoffs, and one of them (Liberty) posted a 10-0 regular season. The rules change starting next year, with nine-game schedules and more teams advancing to the postseason. Carroll is still looking for its first football state title, but has its own success to boast.

The county had six teams win state titles in 2018-19, three in the fall and three more this spring. Liberty grabbed two with boys cross country and field hockey, Westminster had its lacrosse teams, and South Carroll had two with field hockey and girls lacrosse.

The county has won seven field hockey state titles since 2013, and the Cavaliers broke a 16-year drought when they took the 1A title.

Those teams all featured talented athletes and coaches, many of whom were featured at our year-end banquet last week at Martin’s Westminster.

The summer doesn’t last long on the high school sports scene. The first day of fall practice isn’t too far away.

That means gearing up soon for another year filled with standout performances and moments. We appreciate the privilege of being there to cover them and chronicle the history.

And when it’s done for another year, we get to show those people how much they’re appreciated as well.

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