In partnership with the Matt Wyble Team of Century 21 New Millennium, the Severna Park Voice’s Student-Athlete of the Month series seeks to recognize the many student-athletes in our area who make an impact not necessarily by way of statistics or stardom, but by their unique contributions. The quiet leader, the solid role player, the glue guy or gal, the community voice on or off the field — those are the kids we seek to recognize. Do you know a young person in our community making a positive impact through or alongside sports? Nominate them by contacting Colin Murphy at email@example.com.
With the communication demands of being the starting goalie for the Severna Park soccer team, Falcon senior Katie Byrd has no choice but to be a leader on the field. It’s a quality that has helped her and the team excel.
“Playing goalie, you definitely learn the team aspect of, when you do your best you’re helping to lift up others,” said Byrd. “That way, you’re building that positive impact through leading by example. That transfers over to anything else in life — doing your best so that others can do their best.”
Byrd has lived the mantra of leadership through an array of efforts in school and in the community. At Severna Park High School, Byrd is part of the Leadership Institute, where last year she worked together with classmates and the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation to organize a successful $26,000 fundraiser for Wish Week. This year, Byrd and her project partner Claire Blevins have organized the Falcon Fighters, a group of (at least 20) people who will participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS in Washington, D.C., this October.
“We’re just trying to raise funds and awareness for ALS,” said Byrd. “My aunt has ALS, so it’s just kind of a personal cause that I wanted to help out with.”
While she is growing as a leader, Byrd also stays open to new experiences and learning from others. She went on a WoodsWork service trip to New Jersey this summer, helping build a house for a needy recipient through Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church and Habitat For Humanity.
“It was my first year doing it, and it was really cool, just an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did,” she said. “I definitely want to do more with Habitat for Humanity after working with that.”
Here at home, she’s involved with the youth group at Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian.
“It’s cool to just kind of pour into the younger students and have a mentorship relationship with them,” said Byrd, “and getting to see how you can build a community there and people can find family.”
While she maintains a 4.4 GPA at school and is interested in Spanish, education, business and engineering — she is involved in Project Lead the Way, the engineering program at Severna Park — Byrd isn’t sure what the future holds during and after college, but said she’d “like to bring my leadership skills to whatever vocation I end up in to make the workplace as successful and healthy as possible.”
Beth Colon, the business department chair at Severna Park who teaches in the Leadership Institute program, said Byrd demonstrates the exact qualities young people should seek to emulate.
“Katie always leads by example,” said Colon. “She puts her best into all that she does, she builds relationships, she raises her hand and speaks up. I never question Katie’s decision-making or ethics, and know that she takes her actions and work seriously while also making those around her smile. Katie is the kind of girl that you would be happy to have a younger girl look up to and admire.”
With the soccer season underway, Byrd hopes to help her team make it even farther than last year, when the Falcons made the state tournament. Longtime Severna Park goalie coach Johan de Vicq believes Byrd’s approach to the game continues to uplift the Falcons.
“Katie is a great kid,” said de Vicq. “She is an excellent student whose quiet confidence and servant leadership have been an inspiration to the rest of the team.”