By Felisa Cárdenas
Fort Hood Herald
That’s how Killeen junior defensive end Al-Amir Ward describes his attitude on the field.
“Never quit” is the mindset of the United States Marine Corps, who selected Ward as the male athlete for the 2nd Annual MaxPreps Semper Fidelis High School Athlete of the Month Award for December.
“It’s a big honor,” Ward said Friday at the presentation ceremony held in the Killeen gym. “Especially since we weren’t playing this month, this is just a blessing.
“I wasn’t even ready for it, honestly, but I was excited for it; I didn’t even know what to say.”
MaxPreps selects one female and one male athlete each month to be named with the honor of High School Athlete of the Month nominated by a coach, parent, peer or teacher.
Students who are nominated are selected by MaxPreps and the Marine Corps based on three criteria: What it means to be a student-athlete who excels in the classroom, in athletics and with community service.
“The Marines choose from the best of those candidates and Ami was selected for the month of December,” said Charlie Brault, a representative with MaxPreps. “He’s overcome some medical conditions that were detrimental and is a prominent football player here at Killeen High School.”
Ward is a two-sport athlete competing in both football and wrestling for the Roos.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Ward said of receiving the honor. “My coaches and my parents instill hard work in me and that’s just what I did, and it really paid off.
“I put this R-O-O-S on my chest and we went out there and balled out and did the same thing in the classroom.”
Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Alvarez, of the Harker Heights United States Marine Corps recruiting station, presented Ward with the MaxPreps Semper Fidelis Athlete of the Month trophy on Friday during a school assembly.
“The commitment you have demonstrated on the field and in the classroom, the leadership you have shown in your school and community, and the courage you have displayed in choosing a positive life path, makes you an inspiration to your hometown,” stated Alvarez. “Just as the title Marine is ‘earned, never given,’ you can be confident that you have earned your place as MaxPreps Semper Fidelis Athlete of the Month and at the Battles Won Academy, where you will proudly represent your community.”
In being selected as the Athlete of the Month, Ward will receive an all-expenses paid trip to attend the four-day Battles Won Academy, held in Washington, D.C. in July.
“They always told me I was undersized, but apparently somebody sees my hard work,” said Ward. “Don’t let anybody bring you down because at the end of the day, it’s up to you to put in hard work and focus on your academics.”