Unsung Heroes played where teams needed them

Patapsco's Kikola, Dunbar's Melton get $36,000 scholarships for efforts

May 04, 2010|By Jeff Seidel, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Jessica Kikola is just 5 feet 3, but she played wherever the Patapsco basketball team needed her this season — even at center. Despite standing only 5-7, Dunbar football player Joshua Melton became a force on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Their efforts didn't often show up on the score sheets, but they were crucial to their teams. That's why the seniors were named the winners at the 70th annual McCormick Unsung Heroes Awards banquet Monday night at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

Kikola and Melton both will receive a scholarship with a current four-year value of $36,000.

They were chosen from a list of 116 candidates from 73 schools in the Baltimore metro area.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gave the keynote speech, where he implored the nominees to believe they've got the abilities to do anything they want.

Harbaugh, who called up his father, former coach Jack Harbaugh, to speak for a few minutes, told the nominees they should work at changing the world of those closest to them.

"Being a great teammate, being a great friend, being coachable — you have that," John Harbaugh said. "You have what it takes to be successful in life. You are special — do not forget that."

Kikola's natural position is shooting guard. But Patapsco often needed her to move around and play at point guard, small forward and even center.

Kikola also worked at teaching another player, who later took some of her time on the court. "I was a captain, and I won't be here next year, so someone had to take charge," said Kikola, who is headed to Towson. "If it was to benefit other people on our team, I'd be there in a heartbeat."

Melton originally wanted to play running back or linebacker, but Dunbar needed him on the offensive and defensive lines to help the team. He spent countless hours in the weight room, making himself stronger.

He's looking at going to Frostburg or Clemson and would still like to play fullback or linebacker. But Melton was just fine with becoming a lineman for three years at Dunbar.

"You do what you do for the team," Melton said. "I do everything for the team. It was [all] worth it."

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