After a rocket of a lacrosse ball was shot and hit him right in the stomach, rupturing his spleen during a summer lacrosse camp, St. Mary's High School's Tim Delaney figured his high school football career was over.
"I was out for maybe a month," said Delaney, a 6-foot, 165-pound defensive end. "But I was determined to play. I played the last eight games."
Delaney's determination, and the altruism displayed by Franklin High basketball forward Leslie Cox, go to the heart of what last night's 61st annual McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards banquet is all about.
Their characteristics made them the 46th and 47th recipients of $20,000 college scholarships given to the male football player and female basketball player who display championship qualities without regard to acclaim. The selection committee chose the two athletes from among 103 nominees from 67 different schools without knowledge of their identities or the schools they attend.
Delaney, a B student who scored 1070 on his SAT, will use the money to help him as a business management major at Salisbury State University, where he'll play lacrosse.
"She got called up first, and when she was asked to make a speech, I leaned over and told my friend, 'Man, I hope I don't win, I don't know what I'll say,'" said Delaney, a lacrosse defender who will lead St. Mary's into Friday's playoff game against McDonogh at Calvert Hall. "It's a real surprise to have won this. It's really going to help out a lot."
A 3.9 student who scored more than 1,300 on her SAT, Cox will attend Towon University. A competitive dancer in ballet, tap and jazz, Cox is considering a major in physical therapy.
"It's the closest thing to sports and it's something I like to do," said Cox, 17, who will likely participate athletically in college intramurals and club sports. "One thing I've always had was the will to do better for myself, never wanted to give up, wanted to keep going."
Cox's coach, David Turybury, called the 5-9 player "one of the finest young ladies that I've had the privilege to coach."
Cox is active, not only in school, but in numerous community service activities. Teammates consider her a role model, and often come to her for assistance on and off the court.
"She takes on extra work, like helping teammates with their studies," Turybury said. "She has been known to attend practice, even when ill."
Last night's guest speaker was Bonnie St. John Deane, a silver medalist in the 1984 Paralympics. Deane, a Harvard University graduate, lost her right leg when she was 5 years old. A Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford, Deane became an award-winning saleswoman for IBM and was appointed to the Director of Human Capitol Issues on the National Economic Council.
"People fall down in life. And in the world in which you live, there are so many things to knock you down," said Deane, who stood away and to the left of the podium during the duration of her 20-minute speech. "Not only have you risen for yourself, but for your friends, your coaches and your parents. It is your spirit, your courage that is so infectious. People fall down. Winners get up."