The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association recently honored 18 student-athletes from across the state with its 2020 Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Scholarships.
A male and female from each of MPSSAA’s nine districts received the honors.
McDonough High School senior Jake Burgess and Great Mills High School senior Lillian Simmerman were the winners for the district representing Southern Maryland.
Burgess played soccer and tennis at McDonough as well as competed on the Rams’ indoor track and field team during his high school career. He was the varsity tennis team’s captain for three seasons and the Ram Award recipient in tennis for best team spirit and leadership.
“Thank you to the Allstate Foundation and MPSSAA for giving me this award,” Burgess said in a news release provided by the MPSSAA on May 20. “Student-athletes like myself work very hard, both on the field and off, and I truly appreciate the recognition they have given to students across the state. This scholarship has encouraged me to keep on working at college, as it has shown me that hard work really pays off.”
Academically, Burgess was a member of National Honor Society and named National Honor Society president, was part of the school’s math club where he was named team captain twice and was a student page on the Maryland State Senate. He plans to attend college at the University of Maryland College Park.
“You are a called a student-athlete for a reason,” Burgess said. “Academics should be your priority, then athletics. By succeeding in the classroom, you will set yourself up for success on the field.”
Simmerman played field hockey, swimming and lacrosse during her high school career. She was a team captain the past two seasons for field hockey and lacrosse.
The senior was an All-St. Mary’s County first-team selection in field hockey for 2018 and 2019 and an All-County honorable mention for lacrosse in 2018 as well as a senior all-state All-Star field hockey team selection.
“I feel incredibly honored to have received this scholarship,” Simmerman said. “It is very gratifying to be recognized for academics as well as my sporting achievements. Maintaining a difficult course load through the STEM program is extremely challenging while pursuing high school athletics. It is such an honor to bring this scholarship back to my county and Great Mills High School as I could not have done this without the support of my amazing coaches and school community.”
Academically, Simmerman was part of the National and Spanish honor societies, a Spanish high school historian, class president for her junior and senior years and Best Buddies president from 10th through 12th grades. She plans to attend college at the University of Virginia.
“My advice to other student-athletes would be to focus on the areas that you are truly passionate about,” Simmerman said. “This advice applies to sports, extracurricular activities and classes that you take. Everything you choose to participate in should be something you have a true passion towards, and then finding the time for them will not seem like a chore.”
The Minds in Motion Scholar-Athlete Scholarships program has been sponsored by The Allstate Foundation since its inception in 2008 with a total of $152,000 in scholarship funds, including $18,000 this year.
The scholarship recognizes student-athletes who have excelled on the playing field and in 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. The selection committee conducted an online meeting to pick the winners from 650 applications.
“The Allstate Foundation is proud to support these next generation leaders and history-makers from Maryland,” said Shaundra Turner Jones, Allstate senior corporate relations manager. “These amazing young students have shown outstanding initiative both in and outside of the classroom. We know that many students and their families have encountered significant financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an honor to assist them in their future endeavors and watch them achieve their full potential.”