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2008 True Grit award winners

May 17, 2008

The True Grit Award is presented to one senior from each Washington County high school and one sophomore from Hagerstown Community College who demonstrated the ability to overcome hardship to become a member of an athletic team. These profiles were written by the teachers and coaches who recommended the athletes for the award.

Emily Ahalt

Broadfording Christian

Soccer, Volleyball

Corporate Sponsor: Valley Mall -- Julie Rohm, General Manager

Emily Ahalt has scoliosis that required her to wear a Boston Brace 24 hours a day, seven days a week during her first two years of high school. She only was able to take off the brace for athletic practices and games. Emily continues to live with scoliosis, which in her case, continues to be occasionally problematic. In spite of this physical challenge, Emily has been a key player on the BCA championship volleyball team and the girls varsity soccer team. She has not allowed her scoliosis to keep her from being the best she can be.

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Angelique Bagirimvano

Highland View

Basketball, Soccer

Corporate Sponsor: Hagerstown Kitchens, Inc. -- Jim Lobley

Angelique has overcome the challenges of being raised in a single-parent home and has grown to become one of the most positive leaders on campus -- in the classroom, on the playing fields and courts, and in the dormitory. Angelique has used the strength that she has developed while overcoming her challenges to influence and mentor her fellow students.

Andrew Bonds

St. James

Football

Corporate Sponsor: Thompson Gas and Electric -- Randy Thompson

During Andrew's junior year he injured his knee playing lacrosse and it seemed as if he would not be able to play football in the fall. In June 2007 he was operated on and he worked very hard over the summer to rehab the knee. He was medically approved to play football and began practice on August 15. Andrew was able to practice at full speed, but he was a little uncertain how the knee would respond. He earned starting spots at wide receiver and defensive back. However, in the first game against Randolph-Macon, as he made a spectacular diving interception, he broke his collarbone. Everyone thought he was finished for the season, except Andrew, who said he would be back in four weeks. He worked with the trainer every day and exactly four weeks later he returned to the field. He played sparingly in game six, then started and helped the team win the last three games of the season. Andrew's hard work and dedication amazed the coaching staff and his teammates, but most of all he did not let the emotional stress of either injury get him down. He always was positive during these tough times. Everyone at Saint James is very proud of what Andrew has overcome and accomplished. He is a model for the True Grit Award.

Cody Breeden

Hancock

Football

Corporate Sponsor: Myers Building Systems, Inc. -- LeRoy E. Myers Jr.

Cody Breeden was the unanimous choice as the Hancock High School True Grit award recipient. Cody never missed a football practice or game and his senior year he was a 150-pound defensive lineman, which in itself takes True Grit. But this young man is much more than any of that. Cody suffers from epilepsy and has had many bouts with seizures. But even after Grand Mal seizures, he returned to practice the next day. He was committed to the weight room and led by example with his excellent attitude both on the field and in the classroom. Cody is an outstanding representative of the ideals that constitute the True Grit athlete.

Sean Connelly-Richardson

Williamsport

Cross Country, Wrestling

Corporate Sponsor: Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park -- Ron Vitkun

Sean is an 18-year-old who lives at Cedar Ridge Children's Home in Williamsport. He came to Cedar Ridge July 23, 2001, and having to deal with the loss of both parents and simultaneously deal with learning and anxiety disorders, Sean has become a very capable student-athlete. Despite a lack of experience in both distance running and on the wrestling mat, Sean joined these sports and pushed himself to achieve success at the varsity level. In Cross Country, Sean ran steadily during the entire season and ended up as one of Williamsport's seven male qualifiers who ran in the state championship in November 2007. In wrestling, Sean lost his starting spot as a senior because making weight at 103 was too difficult. It would have been logical, and easy for him to quit because seniors cannot wrestle on the junior varsity level. However, Sean did not quit. Instead he came to practices and meets every day and helped the current 103-pound wrestler improve his skills. Sean exemplifies the True Grit ideals and we are very proud of his "can do" approach despite enormous personal adversity.

Andrea Clark

Heritage Academy

Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer

Corporate Sponsor: Coldwell Banker -- Clarence Horst

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