Sydney Nwuli is not your average Severna Park High School student-athlete. The determined and focused young woman finished high school in three years. She turned 17 years old just a few days before graduation.
Nwuli has a 4.7 GPA and played varsity basketball for three years of high school and varsity soccer for the first year. Her coaches, understandably, have nothing but praise for her performance, team leadership, determination and intellect.
Kris Dean, varsity head coach for girls basketball, emphasized that Nwuli is “great, wonderful and a very positive team player” and a “very smart young woman with strong ethics and strong leadership skills.”
These qualities enabled Nwuli, as a freshman, to immediately fit in with the varsity team.
“She is very detailed-oriented and was able to learn much more information, faster and more complicated plays, and execute them at double the speed than the level junior varsity players are expected to play at,” Dean said.
Nwuli was an easy choice for team captain. “She was an excellent model of good ethics and motivator for the other girls and wanted the whole team to achieve success, not just herself,” Dean said.
The team was like a family, Dean said, and Nwuli was known for helping younger members with their drills and homework afterward in the locker room and providing rides home when needed.
Donny Williams, another one of Nwuli’s coaches, praised her athletic and intellectual abilities.
“She is an awesome kid who is exceptionally bright,” Williams said. “She is tough, especially for an undersized player, and there is a grittiness and defiance to her playing. She goes hard and gives 110%. She’s the type of player you put in when you need a rebound.”
Another quality that Williams admires about Nwuli is that “she doesn’t dwell on mistakes. She learns from them and moves on.”
Experiences on and off the court made a lasting impact on Nwuli. “The Falcons basketball team was so close that it has reinforced my desire to play in college,” she said.
Nwuli has accepted a scholarship from Goucher College, where she will pursue a degree in political science and a minor in philosophy. Nwuli is considering becoming a civil rights attorney. She is biracial, and one reason she looks forward to attending Goucher is because the school has a large and active Black student union.
The Black Lives Matter movement has made a huge impact on a lot of young people, including Nwuli. It has made her realize how privileged a life she has been able to live in Severna Park.
“It takes a village. I would like to thank Severna Park for helping me turn into the person I am,” Nwuli said before adding, “I want to make my mom proud.”
In partnership with The Matt Wyble Team of Century 21, the Voice’s Student-Athlete of the Month series recognizes the many student-athletes in our area who make an impact not necessarily by way of statistics or stardom, but by their unique contributions. Contact Zach Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a young person in our community making a positive impact through sports.