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Biglerville, York County Tech athletes earn Gretchen Wolf Swartz sportsmanship scholarships

Regardless of whether they knew they were in the running for the awards, a foursome of YAIAA athletes were thrilled when their names were recently called as recipients of the 2015 Gretchen Wolf Swartz scholarships.

The Biglerville girls' and York County Tech boys' basketball teams were named the Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Awards at the end of the hoops season, and with that honor came two $7,500 scholarships per school to be awarded to a senior player, manager or cheerleader.

Biglerville players Maddie Wenk and Rebecca Isaac knew they were up for the scholarships when they walked into the school's auditorium May 27 for the awards ceremony.

"(Canners girls') Coach Moore had talked to me and said we got the sportsmanship award and that the seniors were in the running. We had two senior cheerleaders running for it as well," Isaac said.

At York Tech's June 3 awards night, Donte Grim and Keevon Rice had no idea what was potentially in store.

"Through that whole process, nobody really knew. They pretty much had us on our toes the whole time," Rice said.

Each of the four earned a $7,500 scholarship presented by the York Chapter of PIAA basketball officials in the name of Gretchen Wolf Swartz, who was a referee from 1981-1995. Wolf Swartz died in 1997, and the officials got together to honor the her memory.

For Isaac and Wenk, who have been friends on the court and off since age 6, hearing their names called was a special moment.

"I was more nervous for them before announcing our names than I was when I went into the interview," Wenk said. "When she announced my name, I still wasn't able to relax. My heart was racing. ... I was so unbelievably happy that I was shaking when I went up there. It was a great experience."

"I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, excited about graduating and getting all of these scholarships," said Isaac, who will attend and play basketball at Messiah College.

The two embraced in the aisle before accepting their awards on the stage.

Rice said he and Grim, a friends for many years, were both surprised when their names were called.

"When they first called my name, I was truly thankful. I counted it as a blessing," Rice said. "I am just grateful that my mom, dad and brothers were there for whole process. I give it up to my mom, she pushed me from kindergarten through 12th grade. An average student? I couldn't be that. I had to be something more than that."

For now, Rice is done with competitive sports, choosing to concentrate on his architectural drafting studies at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute. It's what he studied at Tech, and it's his future.

"I decided to keep going with it. Had a few offers to play basketball, but figured out in the long run that would help me more financially and getting stable," he said.

Grim is still deciding to attend either Harrisburg Area Community College or Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

Wenk, a three-sport athlete with the Canners who will play softball at Pennsylvania School of Technology, found out about the amount of both scholarships just before the start Biglerville's awards ceremony.

"When I was readying the article I thought there was one $7,500 and one $ 2,500," she said. "When I read it again I realized they were giving out two $7,500, I got even more nervous."