Whether it was volunteering to fill a void where their team was short-handed or accepting the challenge to cover their opponent's best player, coaches for the winners of the McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards last night said their athletes embodied the leadership qualities that rarely show up in a box score.
For their unselfish play, Erin Workmeister of Notre Dame Prep and Kevin Kikola of Patapsco each received the $36,000 Charles Perry McCormick Scholarship, given each year to an area football player and girls basketball player. Last night's banquet at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn was the largest in its 68-year history with 780 people, including 119 athletes, representing 73 public, private and parochial schools in the Baltimore metro area.
"We started off with less than a dozen, and look where we are tonight," said John G. McCormick, who hosted the event. "It started as a small group, and it has just grown from there. The room is sort of an issue. The thing we like to include is the nominees' family and coaches. That is what we have to work with."
The winners were selected by an independent committee composed of area school officials.
NDP coach Kate Campitelli said Workmeister was chosen because she rarely worried about her statistics and was prepared to embrace any role that would help her team win. Workmeister focused on playing defense with a "vengeance," and her unselfish attitude was contagious in the locker room, Campitelli said.
Workmeister will use the scholarship money to attend Salisbury University, where she plans to play lacrosse.
"I definitely like defense better because I think that is where I am stronger," Workmeister said.
Kikola was a kicker and punter for Patapsco, but his role did not end at either of those positions for coach John Spencer. Instead, Kikola volunteered to fill in wherever needed and was called on to be a backup guard, quarterback and linebacker, where his coach said he outplayed one of the regular starters.
Spencer called Kikola the best student-athlete he has coached. Kikola served as a role model for other students in academics and athletics.
"A kid like that makes you want to coach," Spencer said. "We need more kids like that. Every day he does the right thing."
Kikola plans to attend the University of Maryland and try out for the football team this year or next.
"I love to play football, and I am willing to do whatever I can to get in the game," Kikola said. "I can't believe it is all over this quick. I can't believe there is no more high school sports. But I can't wait for college."
Herman Boone, retired coach of T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va., was the keynote speaker. Retired WBAL-TV sports director Vince Bagli was also honored for taking part in the ceremonies for nearly 60 years.