PressBox and GBMC have teamed up to honor one high school student-athlete each month who demonstrates sportsmanship, school spirit, hard work and dedication with the Unsung Hero of the Month award. The latest honoree is Dulaney High School Allied soccer player Sean Herrin.
Herrin, a senior, serves as a peer assistant and player on the Allied soccer team. Established by the Baltimore County Public School Office of Athletics in 1994, Allied Sports is a co-ed program created to give students with disabilities an opportunity to play on sports teams. The program features soccer in the fall, bowling in the winter and indoor softball in the spring. The Allied program's teams consist of special education and general education students.
Herrin first got involved with the program during his junior year when he participated in bowling and softball, and then he played soccer this fall.
Dulaney High School Allied soccer head coach Anita Shaw nominated Herrin for the October Unsung Hero of the Month award because he's "dependable, kind, and goes above and beyond the call of duty."
"Sean was taking so much initiative in just being willing to put himself out there at all the practices and looking to help the kids whenever he could," Shaw said. "[He was] stepping onto the field and looking for opportunities to just really get the ball to these kids in the game, so that they could have the most fun. … Any job that needs to be done, he's there doing it."
Herrin's selfless attitude is what makes him a strong Allied teammate. Shaw said many of the soccer volunteers go "out of their way to make life great for someone else."
"If I felt like it, I could go join the actual soccer team, or I could go try out for basketball, or something like that," Herrin said. "Whereas these kids aren't given that opportunity. … I like to give these guys as much of a chance [as possible], because they've been working hard in practices. They've been looking forward to this all summer, and I like to give them as much time with the ball as they can get."
Sean's dedication goes far beyond his abilities on the soccer field, as he's forged genuine friendships with his teammates. Herrin, a Connecticut native and Boston sports fan, is frequently paired with Brian Duffy on the field, and the pair often talk, or argue, about sports. And then there's goalie Katie Eppler, who Shaw said Herrin supports unwaveringly.
"There does have to be a pretty compassionate heart to do what they're doing," Shaw said. " ... I see [Sean] looking out for these kids. I see him talking to them in a game. I see him pointing and even gently guiding them into the right spaces on the field. I see him encouraging them, going and giving them high-fives. Even when we get scored on, he's the first one to run back … to tell her, ‘Heads up, Katie. You'll get the next one.'"
And even during Herrin's humble acceptance of the award, he didn't go without acknowledging his teammates on the Allied soccer team who work just as hard.
"Honestly, any one of the kids on the team could have gotten the award just as much as I could have," Herrin said. "It's a really, really great honor to be given this."
For Shaw, who spends her time making sure the Allied sports participants are given opportunities and are put in a position to succeed, Herrin's unwavering support is what keeps her going.
"I want to inspire them that this will really be a meaningful experience and something that they will not forget for the rest of their life and that they will learn a great deal from," Shaw said. "And I feel like Sean has kind of embraced that and is really looking to see what he can learn and what he can give. It really is a joy to see, a joy to watch."
Issue 227: November 2016
Watch video of the award presentation: