Kenneth Sumpter Jr., a member of the basketball and football teams at Havre de Grace High School in Harford County, was named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month for March.
Sumpter, a senior, is the third recipient of the award from Harford County. He was nominated by Brian Eberhardt, who coaches basketball and football at Havre de Grace.
"All four years, he has been an example of what a student-athlete should be," Eberhardt said. "He's truly an extension of the coach on the floor. I've never seen him put down a teammate ever. He leads by example. Kenneth is always the first guy at practice and the last to leave."
Sumpter has made a major impact for both programs at Havre de Grace.
A guard, Sumpter was a four-year member of the Warriors' boys' varsity basketball team. He surpassed 1,000 career points during a 32-point, 12-rebound effort against Perryville Feb. 10. Sumpter averaged 23.7 points a game this season for Havre de Grace, which finished 18-7. He also set the school record for career 3-pointers made.
The Warriors reached the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association 1A North regional final, where they lost, 81-77, in overtime to the eventual state champion, Fairmont Heights. Sumpter scored 31 points during his final high school basketball game.
Sumpter was equally productive for the football program as a wide receiver and safety. He hauled in the game-winning pass to down Perryville and retain the Susquehanna Bowl for Havre de Grace with less than a minute in the game. Havre de Grace reached the MPSSAA 1A state championship at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Dec. 10. Though the team lost in the final to Fort Hill, Sumpter still excelled, catching a touchdown pass.
"It was a surreal feeling, getting to play in a college stadium. It was a really big test; I'd never been on a big stage like that before," Sumpter said. "I learned how important it was to stay poised, and I did my best to carry that to basketball season."
Sumpter's athletic talent has been matched by his prowess in the classroom.
He holds a 3.54 GPA while taking seven advanced-placement classes. Sumpter has not received worse than a B in any of his AP or honors classes and has been on the honor roll throughout his entire education. He tutors fellow students in algebra and also plays the trumpet for the symphonic concert and jazz bands.
Sumpter is also a recipient of the MPSSAA's Minds in Motion Award, which highlights student-athletes who hold at least a 3.25 GPA while playing a sport. He's been a member of the National Society of High School Scholars since 2015.
"It comes from my parents. They set a level of expectation that school is first, then sports," Sumpter said. "I kept that mentality throughout high school -- paying attention in class and getting good grades was just expected."
Sumpter is also active in his community. He sings in the choir, plays trumpet, acts as a junior usher and is also a mentor at the Mount Zion Baptist Church. Sumpter has helped put together food packages during the holidays and has also assisted the Harford House with the preparation of temporary housing for homeless families in transition.
"Helping out others gives me a satisfaction, knowing I'm making an impact in someone's life that could really use it," Sumpter said. "Putting together a food basket during the holidays for someone who is going through a tough time is just a great feeling -- seeing them smile is all I need."
Sumpter is in the process of figuring out where he wants to attend college next year. He plans to play basketball at the collegiate level and has received interest from multiple NCAA Division III schools, as well as a few Division II programs.
Issue 232: April 2017