Gilman's Darius Jennings and McDonogh's Taylor… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
Three-sport standouts Darius Jennings from Gilman and Taylor Cummings from McDonogh created plenty of memorable moments this school year to help each of their respective teams succeed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jennings and Cummings were recognized for their athleticism, hard work and team-first approach by being named The Baltimore Sun's Male and Female Athletes of the Year at the 45th annual luncheon at the newspaper's downtown headquarters.
John Carroll senior Chelsea Shock, who sacrificed her senior lacrosse season at John Carroll to devote more time to her Shock Cancer foundation, also was honored as the recipient of the fifth annual Hayley Milbourn Integrity Award.
Rayna DuBose, a former standout basketball player at Oakland Mills and Virginia Tech, delivered an inspiring message as the keynote speaker at the event. DuBose, now 27, almost lost her life during her freshman year at Virginia Tech after being diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, a rare bacterial infection that left her in a coma for three weeks and resulted in having portions of her legs and arms amputated.
She has found a new passion as a motivational speaker and preached the importance of bouncing back from adversity, handling added responsibilities as student-athletes prepare for their college years, and making the most of life.
Jennings, a senior, and Cummings, a junior, certainly made the most of the 2010-11 school year on their respective playing fields.
Jennings, who chose Virginia over 35 other football scholarships, enjoyed a dominant senior year that exemplified his fine career at Gilman.
"It's definitely a great honor and it just shows that all the hard work paid off," said Jennings, who will play wide receiver this fall at Virginia. "Going from football to basketball and then track — I had options not to play the last two, but I wanted to show my commitment to my teams and to my coaches and be a good team player."
In the fall, he was named The Sun's Offensive Player of the Year playing quarterback for the Greyhounds. Playing in the Wildcat offense, Jennings ran for 1,592 yards and 19 touchdowns, threw for three more and ran two kickoffs back to account for 24 touchdowns. In leading the No. 2 Greyhounds to a 7-2 mark, he became the program's all-time leading rusher with 4,338 career yards on 493 carries and 53 touchdowns. He also was named the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year and an Under Armour All-American.
On the basketball court, Jennings averaged seven points and six rebounds for the Greyhounds. He closed out his high school career with a sensational track and field season in the spring. He won the 100- and 400-meter dashes to lead the Greyhounds to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association track and field championships.
In being named top female athlete, Cummings consistently showed poise when it counted the most over the course of three seasons.
Already set to play lacrosse at Maryland, she finished with 60 goals and 15 assists to lead the No. 1 Eagles (19-0) to their third straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. The last of her 60 goals proved to be the game-winner in the Eagles' 18-17 win over Roland Park in the title game.
Coming up big in the clutch was nothing new for Cummings. In the soccer season this fall, she provided the game-winning assist as McDonogh claimed a 2-1 overtime win against Archbishop Spalding in the IAAM title game. In earning first-team All-Metro honors, she accounted for 18 goals and 10 assists as the No. 1 Eagles finished with a 15-1-2 mark. For McDonogh's No. 6-ranked basketball team in the winter, Cummings averaged eight points, six rebounds and was responsible for covering the opposition's top offensive player in most games.
"This is completely unexpected. I had absolutely no idea that I would ever get this award. It's a great honor and I'm so thankful for everything," she said. "I enjoy soccer so much. This was the first IAAM championship that we ever won and it was amazing to be part of that. Basketball is a different group of girls that are so fun and I love every single one of them. Basketball is a hard sport and I enjoy competing in it. And then lacrosse, it's my favorite sport. I love my team and we've done so well the past couple years and I'm so thankful for that. All our hard work has paid off."
After playing 13 years of lacrosse, Shock decided not to go out for her fourth and final varsity season at John Carroll to put more time into her foundation, which she created to raise money for cancer research after her mother, Betty, was diagnosed with Hodgkins' lymphoma.
Not long after Betty, who is now in remission, was diagnosed seven years ago, Chelsea started it to help kids dealing with the same fear and uncertainty she faced.
She developed a website, also named Shock Cancer, and is heavily involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Recently, she and her mother successfully completed The Goofy Challenge at Disney Land, a grueling event that consists of running a half marathon one day and a full marathon the next.