Henson, Biedenback named unsung heroes

May 07, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

"Unbelievable" was the reaction of Kenwood High's Earl Henson as the 5-foot-5, 150-pound football player -- and perhaps the smallest guard in Baltimore County's 3A-4A league -- stepped up to the podium and spoke into the microphone.

"Amazing and excited," said Kristi Biedenback, a forward on Sparrows Point's basketball team who once asked to miss eight days of practice to help feed the poor in Guatemala on a church-sponsored mission.

"For that [mission] I'd never seek recognition," said Biedenback. "I just got so much personal satisfaction from it."

Biedenback and Henson were the football player and female basketball player honored with the $3,500-per-year scholarships at the 54th annual McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards Banquet last night at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

Established in 1940 by the late Charles Perry McCormick, the program recognizes unselfish team play and honors those who contribute substantially to the success of their teams without receiving acclaim.

Biedenback and Henson were among the 100 football and female basketball players nominated for the award and represented the 65 Baltimore City and Baltimore County public, private, parochial and independent schools.

Henson, 18, said he will use the money to go to Salisbury State College, where he plans to major in history -- a subject Henson hopes to teach in high school.

Henson also hopes to be a role model to youngsters about tackling major obstacles, adding that he'll tell his stories about facing opponents who sometimes outweighed him by 100 pounds and stood a full foot taller.

"No matter what or how big the obstacles, you can do anything you set your mind to," said Henson, a tailback on the junior varsity squad before being asked to change his position on varsity.

"I'm small, but Coach asked me to play guard. I did the best that I could and came out on top, but this is a total shock to me."

Through several stints with personal tragedy, Henson missed practice once in the two years he was coached by Fred Myers. Even then, he returned the next day and practiced through 100-degree heat while suffering from the flu.

Henson often relieved his mother from the care of his bedridden father, who suffered five strokes and a heart attack in 1992. He also continued to play through the death of his grandmother in 1993 before homecoming.

"Earl did not just have a positive attitude -- he was a positive attitude," Myers said. "He was the heart and soul of our team."

The same could be said of Biedenback, 17, who will attend Essex Community College next fall with plans to eventually transfer to Towson. She is undecided about her major.

"Kristi Biedenback is the type of young lady that comes along all too seldom in our careers as coaches and teachers," said coach Samuel Scott. "She is the child that parents look at and smile with the knowledge that they have produced a child that will make the world a better place."

During the trip to Guatemala, Biedenback fed the poor and assisted in putting on puppet shows for children.

"We did a lot of missionary work and helped in a feeding center. I pTC went back again in February and I'm planning to go back in November," said Biedenback.

"We have so much in America that we don't even realize until we go to another country."

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