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On Thursday morning inside the Lackey High School auditorium, Lackey senior Alexis Murry was smiling from ear to ear and for good reason.

In front of family, classmates, friends, faculty and staff, Murry was honored as one of the 10 nationwide finalists in the U.S. Army Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence program.

The program, which started earlier in the year, recognizes the achievements of student-athletes and their excellence in academics and community commitment.

“This is a great honor, I’m at a loss for words,” Murry said. “I am the only student selected from Charles County and from Maryland. It is a great step for me in my life and is important to me and my Lackey family. I thank everyone in my life that is there to support me.”

Representatives from the U.S. Army and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as Darrell Green, former cornerback for the Washington Redskins and 2008 inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, visited Lackey to present Murry with her finalist award.

George Veras, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises, said the program was developed to honor students that exemplify qualities of excellence and strength.

"The U.S. Army and Pro Football Hall of Fame partnered to establish this program to recognize students that represent areas of strength and excellence," Veras added.

Veras mentioned that Murry is a special individual and is an exceptional student-athlete who takes the time to stay involved with sports, school and the community.

“That’s a hard thing to do,” Veras said. “Alexis is very driven, energetic and is very hard-working. That’s why we selected her as one of the 10 finalists in our program. We looked at all of her accomplishments and wondered how she had time to even do all of these things.”

Murry has competed in indoor and outdoor track and field for the Chargers since she was a freshman and runs in several events ranging from the 55- to 800-meter dashes and the high jump to the 55-meter hurdles and team relay races. During her career, she has earned several first-place regional titles as well as several second-, third- and fourth-place rankings at the state level.

Murry has also participated in cheerleading at Lackey and served as a statistician for the varsity football team.

In addition to her many athletic commitments, Murry is excellent in the classroom and community. She is currently enrolled in four Advanced Placement courses, is a member of the National Honor Society and the Lackey Key Club as well as the JROTC.

Murry has also maintained a grade point average at or above the standard 4.0 grading scale throughout high school.

“It was very fitting that she won,” Lackey vice principal Richard Conley said. “She’s been an honor and AP student every year and she goes the extra mile in athletics, academics and the community.”

Murry has also applied to several colleges and universities, including Ohio State, Alabama, Miami (Fla.) and Louisville, and plans to study sports medicine.

“This is a very special moment,” Murry said. “Not many people in my family have been able to get a high honor like this. It was very exciting to meet Darrell Green, he’s a very cool guy. He gave me a hard time because I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but meeting him and receiving this honor is something I will never forget. I never thought I would get recognized at this level. Now I’m not done yet, I want to win state titles in indoor and outdoor.

“She’s is one those student-athletes that I said could walk and chew gum at the same time,” Green said. “I’m very proud of Alexis, she has great humility and strength and I think she will make it very far with her goals. I gave her some words of encouragement and critiqued her on some things to do in the future.”

Green, who was one of the fastest players in NFL history, often said this wasn’t his first time in the Southern Maryland area.

“I often go to the restaurant Captain Billy’s and I play at some of the golf courses,” Green said. “This is a very nice area and the community and people are very nice.”

Lackey head indoor and outdoor track and field coach Katie Schubbe was ecstatic that Murry received the honor and has watched her grow since walking through the school’s doors.

“Alexis performs before school, after school, on the track, she’s just everywhere,” Schubbe said with a smile. “For Lackey, we strive to push our students and athletes. Alexis is a very rounded individual and she will have a great future.”

In the opening ceremony remarks, Mark Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing, said the 10 finalists embody the similar skill sets as soldiers.

"Army soldiers and athletes possess the same skill sets and characteristics, such as integrity, mental, physical and emotional strength, dedication and excellence," Davis said.

Green, who then introduced Murry as a finalist, said the awards program is also about being a role model for the community and a team player.

"It is about those who can rise above to say, 'I can, I will, for myself, for my family and for my classmates,’" Green noted.

Murry and will travel to San Antonio, Texas, with her family in January, along with the other nine award finalists, to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, where the winner will be announced at a Jan. 4 awards banquet.

For more information on the program, go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website at www.profootballhof.com/Army/.

ajmason@somdnews.com