On the heels of a week where I put together a Dwyane Wade dirty play video anthology on Tuesday, skewered a Georgia safety for smoking weed in his dorm room on Thursday and updated the 2013 Crimesman Trophy standings, I need to write about something positive.
I basically need the "faith in mankind" equivalent of a digestive cleanse from all the flopping, the weed and the crime.
Thankfully, the youth of our city bring me hope, and to that end congratulations are in order for several of them, two in particular.
Every spring, the Touchdown Club of Houston celebrates scholar-athletes in area high school spring sports based on their academic success and athletic ability as well as citizenship and extracurricular activities.
In short, if you were looking to compile a "Least Likely to Win the Crimesman Trophy, Like EVER" list, this event would be your starting point.
This year, around 600 attended the dinner, which was sponsored by DeeDee and Wallis Marsh, and there were 69 finalists across 17 sports, with one winner named in each category. Voting was done by a blue-ribbon panel of area high school athletic directors, and the scoring system that the judges used was pretty simple: up to ten points for academics, up to five points for athletics and up to five points for citizenship.
A true "best of the best" for the Houston area, the roster of finalists included the following:
- 12 valedictorians - 3 salutatorians - 17 who will attend Texas A&M University - 15 who will attend the University of Texas - 7 who will attend Rice University
Now, the biggest award (the "best of the best of the best," if you will), the top overall scholar-athletes, went to Sam Konstanty of Elkins and Haley Deakins of Cypress Creek, who were named the Outstanding Male and Female Scholar-Athletes for the spring season of the 2012-2013 school year.
Both were valedictorians of their class, which I would imagine is practically the cover charge just to be considered for the highest of Scholar-Athlete honors. Also, both plan on continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
Konstanty will be taking his talents north to Dallas this fall as he will be attending UT-Dallas on a full academic scholarship. Fueled by a love for math and a desire to help his fellow man, Konstanty will be majoring in biomedical engineering.
If you're looking for proof that competition breeds excellence, that's manifested in Konstanty's proudest on-field and off-field accomplishments. On the field, he cites leading his club soccer team (Eclipse Soccer Club) to an improbable win in a 64-team tournament in Spain two summers ago, and similarly off the field, he was a key part (first in the "interview" portion) of his school's academic decathlon team that made it to state in El Paso.
Konstanty notes his parents and his older brother as his role models, and motivation to be extraordinary for him comes from many places, from something as simple as his older brother playfully punching him for missing a multiplication problem as a kid to the desire to someday help a medical community that kept him alive as an infant when his breathing stopped.
"Ultimately, my desire for knowledge is fueled by the hope that I can one day help humanity as a whole," Konstanty said.
Like Konstanty, Deakins, a basketball player who was also a star runner on the Cougars' cross-country and track and field teams, plans on continuing her athletic endeavors next fall as she will attempt to walk on to the cross-country team at Texas A&M. She, too, plans on majoring in biomedical engineering.
(TWO biomedical engineering majors as the winners! If more kids were peer-pressured into majoring in biomedical engineering as opposed to smoking, the world would be a better place.)
Deakins will take three appearances in the state cross-country meet with her to College Station on her résumé this fall, but the athletic accomplishment she talked about most extensively was when her Cy Creek basketball team knocked off Cy-Fair in overtime to go to the state playoffs.
"It was either us or them that was going to make it to playoffs, and we pulled through. It was such an exciting and close game and our team was so happy after we had won such a tough game," said Deakins.
Haley's biggest fan might be her coach.
"Haley is so deserving of this award. She shows what it means to be a student athlete and to do it with excellence. She's a model not only for our students but for those in the community," said Jennifer Alexander, Cypress Creek head girls' basketball coach. "I was initially shocked when they announced her name on Wednesday [May 22], but I am not surprised she received this award. Haley's record on and off the playing field speaks for itself. I am extremely proud of her."
Deakins's role models are her parents, who she says helped her with knowledge, support and selflessly sacrificing their time to make her the best possible athlete and person: "When I grow up, I hope I can be as amazing as they are."
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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