Alger, Emery achieve `Hero' status

Both scholarship winners set to attend Frostburg

May 11, 1999|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Patterson's Dino Alger and Owings Mills' Erin Emery, two diminutive athletes with massive amounts of heart, were named the 1999 McCormick Unsung Heroes last night at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

Alger, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound strong safety and quarterback, and Emery, a 5-3, 115-pound guard and defensive stalwart, became the 42nd and 43rd recipients of Charles Perry McCormick college scholarships, established in 1969 and worth $5,000 a year for four years.

The Frostburg State University-bound duo was chosen from among 105 male and female athletes at the 59th annual event by a five-member committee, which knew only of the athletes' accomplishments, not their names or schools.

The award honors football players and female basketball players from 70 private, public and parochial schools in Baltimore County and Baltimore City for unselfish play and substantial contributions to their team without acclaim or fanfare.

A first-year starter and a 4.0 student, Emery excelled against 6-foot players despite overcoming a mid-season operation to remove cancer.

"Doctors told me after the operation to wait about four weeks, but I could only stay out a week because I couldn't stand being on the bench," said Emery, 17, who will major in environmental science at Frostburg. I get that determination from my mother [Lois], who also overcame cancer. She's always on me to finish what I started."

Of Emery, coach Lisa Meyer said: "A coach can't teach heart, but with Erin, it wasn't necessary to try.

"She is vocal in a positive sense, and never judgmental of negative," Meyer added. "Without question, Erin is concerned and cares most about the team than herself."

Alger, a 3.3 student whose father died when he was 10, said he drew strength from his mother, Gail Locklear, head coach Roger Wrenn and assistant Mark Junker. On this year's 10-1, Baltimore City championship squad, Alger was the interceptions leader and ranked third in tackles. Patterson was 10-0 in the city's A League

Alger "started at quarterback as a junior, but sustained a wrist injury which led to the loss of this position," Wrenn said. "He was switched to strong safety, backup quarterback and punter. Even though this was a crushing blow, Dino never once complained and took over his new positions with zest."

A proud Native American and full-blooded member of the Lumbee Indian tribe, Alger will major in criminal justice or physical therapy. "I want to help all people, not only my own," Alger said.

Guest speaker and former Olympian Cathy Rigby said she weighed three pounds, 10 ounces at her premature birth, requiring an incubator to recover from a collapsed lung. Rigby gained strength from her mother, who endured the death of her own mother and brother.

Rigby later overcame eating disorders.

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