MINDS IN MOTION

From left, St. Michaels High graduates Willie Lowry, Sincere Taylor and Nolan Sawatsky pose with their honors Tuesday afternoon.

ST. MICHAELS — Sincere Taylor wasn’t sure what she was reading.

Let the record show St. Michaels High Athletic Director Brian Femi said Taylor is, “one of the best female scholar athletes we’ve had here in awhile.”

Taylor’s resume certainly supports that. Over her four years at St. Michaels, Taylor played four sports: basketball in the winter, softball in the spring, and field hockey (as a freshman and sophomore) and golf (junior, senior years) during the fall months. And she graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average (4.0 scale), with a weighted 4.208 GPA to boot.

Still, the recent St. Michaels graduate was understandably a little unsure exactly what she was reading in an email last month, notifying her she had been selected as a 2020 Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Scholarship Recipient by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

“I was surprised,” Taylor said. “I didn’t even know it was a thing. I didn’t know because this is like the first award-scholarship that I’ve ever gotten. So when I read it I was like, ‘Oh wow, I got a scholarship.’ I didn’t realize how big it was. My mom was with me when I read it.”

Adding to Taylor’s surprise was the fact she did not know she had even been nominated, or who nominated her.

“I’m excited about it,” Taylor said. “It’s a huge honor to be picked out of the entire state.”

Taylor was one of 18 winners selected state-wide for the Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Scholarship. The MPSSAA selection committee received 650 applications for this year’s scholarship. A male and female recipient were selected from each of the MPSSAA’s nine districts.

Taylor was the District 8’s female recipient, while Stephen Decatur’s Eric Gwin was the male winner. Each recipient receives a $1,000 scholarship from The Allstate Foundation.

“She is definitely deserving of it,” St. Michaels head softball coach David Fisher wrote in a text message. “She is a great young lady and one of those players you enjoy coaching. She will always give 100%, has a great attitude and I learned early on with her that she is harder on herself than I could ever be.”

This was the 13th year for the Minds in Motion program, which recognizes students who have excelled in athletics and the classroom. Applicants must be seniors with a minimum 3.25 unweighted overall GPA and have participated in interscholastic athletic activities sponsored by MPSSAA during their high school careers.

“She is the most amazing young lady,” Femi said. “First of all, playing three sports itself, forget the academic component. And then you put that (academics) on top of it.”

Taylor now has her sights set on Stevenson University, where she plans studying biology beginning next school year.

“It’s the most similar to St. Michaels in my opinion as a college,” Taylor said of Stevenson. “And I think I thrived very well at St. Michaels, so I wanted to go there. And plus I liked the community and how close it was to home, but kind of far. And I liked that they had softball and a really good biology program, which is everything that I wanted.”

A shortstop on the Saints’ softball team, Taylor may have thought her playing days were over after this spring’s high school sports seasons were canceled nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic. But she received another unexpected surprise early this spring, when she was contacted by the Mustangs’ softball coaching staff.

“I was already committed to them,” Taylor said. “They reached out and asked if I wanted to play because they were looking for people. I was excited about that one. I was real excited to continue playing, especially since my year this year got cut short.”

Taylor, who plans to go into pre-med, was presented her Minds and Motion award from the state on Tuesday afternoon at the school by Femi and St. Michaels Principal Theresa Vener. She also posed for pictures with classmates Willie Lowry and Nolan Sawatsky, who were selected as Star Scholar Athletes by The Star Democrat this spring.

Lowry, who was selected as the boys’ soccer recipient, was president of the school’s National Honor Society, and was a member of the National Technical Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society. Lowry, who had a 4.14 GPA, will attend Harvard next school year.

A four-year varsity player in soccer and baseball, Sawatsky was selected this year’s overall Star Scholar Athlete and the baseball recipient. He carried a 4.0 GPA, was a two-year member of the National Honor Society, and was also a member of the National Music Honor Society. He plans to attend St. Mary’s College and play baseball.

“This is what we try to stress to all of our athletes,” Femi said. “We want them to be scholar-athletes first. And these three people, including Sincere, took that to heart and just applied themselves to do the best they could. This class in general had a lot of top notch academic athletes.”

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