Catonsville's Andrea Denton carried the drive of her mother Sharon to the basketball court, playing point guard, shooting guard, small forward and even center.
"She taught me to always have the desire to keep going whatever you're doing," said Denton, a 5-foot-7, 135-pound senior whose mother died of cancer during her sophomore year. "Those are some of the qualities she left with me. And I'm sure she's really proud of me, especially tonight."
Denton's unselfish nature and her poise against difficult odds made her the female recipient of the McCormick Unsung Heroes Award at last night's 62nd annual banquet. She joined Forest Park football player Aaron Pressley, the male recipient, as the winners of the honor after being chosen by a committee that is made aware only of the accomplishments of the candidates and not their names or the schools they represent.
Each will receive scholarships valued at $5,000 per academic year for college after being chosen from among 107 male and female candidates representing 68 Baltimore City and County high schools.
"That's a lot of money," said the 6-foot, 230-pound Pressley, a B student who is undecided about where he will go to college. After thanking God, Pressley, 17, also thanked his coach, Obie Barnes; his mother, Carla; and his grandmother, Marguerite, all of whom were in attendance.
Pressley said his heart is also with his father, who has had a troubled personal life and who has yet to see him play football as a youth or in high school.
"My dream is that I can continue to play in college somewhere, and that someday, he can come see me play," Pressley said. "Now, maybe that can happen." Denton, a 3.5 student with a 1,060 SAT score, burst into tears as she spoke of her mother's death -- an experience which brought her and her sisters, Lindsay, 23, and, Julie, 20, closer together.
"She was there for everything and kept me active and focused," said Denton, who will play lacrosse and major in elementary education at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
Denton sacrificed individual needs for the good of the team, said her coach, Mike Mohler. Pressley did the same as a blocking back for second-team All-Metro Sheldon Campbell, who scored 23 touchdowns.
"Aaron averaged only one carry per quarter, but never complained," said Barnes. "He's a big guy with a big heart and a healthy respect for discipline and fair play."