By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - In April, Keyser High School and the Keyser Rotary Club announced the nominees for the 2020 Katharine Church Award. On Monday, they will finally receive their time in the limelight during an invitation-only dinner hosted by the Keyser Rotary Club.

This year’s nominees are Marissa Guy, Allison Jones and Courtney Minnick, three very recognizable names and faces with resumes full of achievement in the classroom and on their respective playing fields.

The award is named in memory of the long-time musician, educator and community servant, and recognizes three senior females who have participated in high school athletics for at least two years, maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average or better, and served as a positive role model for underclasswomen and represented Keyser High School well.

All three of these outstanding young ladies fit the bill with their high academic achievements, participation in student government, membership is academic honor societies, and of course, achievement in their chosen sports and activities.

Marissa Guy was a four-year member of the cheerleading squad, a four-year member of the Mat Maids, two-year member of the track team, two-year member of the softball team, class secretary, class valedictorian and both a Goldsworthy and Promise Scholar.

Allison Jones was a three-year member of the cheerleading squad, the 2018 Keyser Athletic Queen, a member of the Math, Academic and National Technical Honor Societies, president of the Science Honor Society, and both a Goldsworthy and Promise Scholar.

Courtney Minnick was vice president of the senior class, lettered in three sports (cheerleading, softball and volleyball), and was a member of the Math, Science and National Honor Societies

In April, Guy, Jones and Minnick were interviewed by Philip Biser of Tornado TV and asked to explain their thoughts on being nominated for the Katharine Church award. The nominees’ words come from this interview.

First, each nominee was asked what it meant to them to be nominated for the Katharine Church Award. Each of course was honored, and then expressed their gratitude for being nominated alongside what they each consider to be two of their closest friends.

"It’s an honor to be up for such a prestigious award.  As if it couldn’t get any better, to find out that I am up with two of my good friends made it that much more of an honor and such a blessing," Marissa Guy stated.

According to Allison Jones, "It’s really exciting.  This is the biggest honor a senior girl can receive. Being nominated beside two amazing girls that happen to be good friends of mine, it’s almost unreal."

"I feel very humbled and honored to be nominated for such a prestigious award and I am thankful above all. I remember when I found it was crazy and I just couldn’t stop thinking about who I would be up for this award with. When I found out it was these two girls it just made it that much better because they’re really, really good friends of mine. I was excited that it was them that would be up for it with me," Courtney Minnick noted.

Next, the Katharine Church nominees were asked to explain their initial reactions upon finding out they had been nominated. It’s clear from the responses that not only was there of course an initial feeling of excitement, but that what followed was a deeply emotional feeling indicative of how special the nomination is.

According to Marissa Guy, "Well, I cried with joy.  I was overjoyed with the news. It was quickly replaced with excitement, honor and being proud."

"I was shocked.  I had to stand there and read the letter a thousand times to make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading. I never thought I would be up for this award, it’s crazy," Allison Jones stated.

According to Courtney Minnick, "My mom and I were outside and she had checked the mail and then came crying and screaming at me and started jumping and hugging me, and I was like, ‘what are you doing.’  Then she showed me the letter and like Allison said, I had to read it more than once and was thinking this can’t be real.  So, I was completely shocked, and I was very thankful and very excited."

Finally, the nominees were asked if being nominated for the Katharine Church award was specifically a goal for them.  All three nominees indicated that it had in fact been a goal for them upon entering Keyser High School.

"For sure. Ever since the eighth grade when I went to my first Ed Kelley program and found out there was a female version of the Ed Kelley award. I think it’s every female athlete’s goal to be up for the Katharine Church Award.  But I knew that our class was filled with well-deserving, talented ladies, and that it wouldn’t be easy to be up for it. But it was most definitely always a goal of mine to be up for it," Marissa Guy declared.

According to Allison Jones, "It definitely was a goal, but like Marissa said, our class has so many outstanding girls who could get it that I never dreamed in a million years that I would be up for it."

"It was definitely a goal. Plenty of close friends of mine had been nominated in the past and my best friend had won it last year, so I knew I definitely wanted to follow in their footsteps and represent Katharine Church as well," Courtney Minnick explained.

Katharine Church’s legacy lives on annually with not just the issuing of the award, but in the quality of the nominees put forth for consideration.  As in years past, those chosen in the nomination process are top notch, accomplished seniors, or in the case with this year, already graduates.

This year’s award will be bestowed in an invitation-only ceremony on Monday, July 6.