All those characteristics were on display during Thursday night's 63rd annual Touchdown Club football awards banquet, which drew another sellout crowd to the DoubleTree Hotel.
It started with the pre-dinner presentation to Commander Bob Caldwell, who has been with the Touchdown Club from the outset. Caldwell was part of the 1954 Navy football team that inspired formation of the organization.
"My long dedication to the Touchdown Club began my plebe year when I attended the inaugural banquet at
," said Caldwell, who would later return to the Naval Academy as Deputy Director of Athletics.
Caldwell received the Jim and Rae Ann Morgan Award as a distinguished member of the Touchdown Club of Annapolis. That special award, given to those who have shown longtime dedication and unwavering support of the organization, has previously recognized past presidents and devoted members such as Jack Cloud, Frank Brady and Joe Gross.
"I am so proud to have been associated with the Touchdown Club, which has richly supported our youth, high school and collegiate football and lacrosse teams," Caldwell said. "This club has also represented the spirit of teamwork, selflessness and respect."
Caldwell went on to mention numerous other past presidents of the Touchdown Club for whom he had great admiration, including his former football coach at Navy — H. Richard Duden.
That nostalgic moment soon gave way to tradition as all the perpetual awards handed out during the banquet are named in honor of individuals that were very important to the Touchdown Club of Annapolis.
The Jim Rhodes Memorial Trophy, presented to the Most Outstanding Player in Anne Arundel County, was named after a founding member of the club. Archbishop Spalding quarterback Evan Fochtman and Annapolis High running back Cameron Hough became just the second co-winners in the 57-year history of the Rhodes Trophy.
The Al Laramore Award, which was created to recognize the best down lineman in Anne Arundel County, honors the legendary Annapolis High head coach. Nobody appreciated the men that toiled in the trenches more than "Big Al," who would have respected the relentless intensity of Broadneck defensive end Darnell Creek — the 2016 recipient.
Capt. A.J. Rubino was a driving force behind the Touchdown Club for many years, serving as president in 1975 and hosting monthly meetings at his office on the campus of the Naval Academy throughout that era.
When the former Naval Academy physical education instructor and boxing coach died tragically in an auto accident, it was a no-brainer to add his name to one of the club's most prestigious awards. Standout quarterback Will Worth was honored to receive the Tony Rubino Memorial Silver Helmet Award as Most Outstanding Player at the Naval Academy. "It is very humbling to see my name on that trophy alongside some of the all-time greats to ever play at Navy," Worth said.
Not too long into its existence, the Touchdown Club of Annapolis decided to include the Maryland
football program as part of its annual football banquet. For decades, popular state comptroller Louis L. Goldstein presented the award given to the Most Outstanding Player at Maryland.
Dean D'Camera, who served two terms as Touchdown Club president, realized the impropriety of having a perpetual trophy for Navy award and not the Maryland counterpart. D'Camera commissioned the Goldstein Gold Helmet Award, a beautiful piece of hardware that matches the Rubino Silver Helmet.
Offensive lineman Michael Dunn, a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection, was an ideal choice as the 2016 winner of the Goldstein Gold Helmet. Dunn, a former walk-on from nearby Walt Whitman High, became a four-year starter for the Terrapins.
Dunn arrived late to Thursday night's banquet because he gave a eulogy at the memorial service for Jamie Warner, his offensive line coach at Walt Whitman.
"This is a bittersweet day for me. While I am honored to join the many legendary former Terps who have won this award, I'm saddened that I cannot share it with someone who meant so much to my career," Dunn said. "Jamie inspired me to become the player I am today. He believed I could become a Division I player long before I did. He was my coach, my mentor, my role model and my friend."
Vince DePasquale is another individual who has become synonymous with the Touchdown Club of Annapolis. The Cape St. Claire resident remains the longest-tenured president in Anne Arundel Youth Football Association history and set the standard for volunteer commitment to the organization.
It was fitting for the club to name the Youth Service Award presented annually at the banquet in honor of DePasquale, who shows up every year to personally recognize the winner. This year's recipient was Ken Browning, who has directed a resurgence of the Harundale Rebels program during his three years as commissioner.
Browning joked that he has found a way to turn a youth football commissioner position into a full-time job and thanked his girlfriend for dealing with the fact he is never around during the fall. The lifelong Pasadena resident talked about driving an hour and spending another four hours in a gymnasium supporting Harundale football players at a wrestling tournament.
"I am committed to building relationships on the field that we then take off the field," he said. Perhaps the highlight of Thursday night's banquet was the presentation of the Jerry Mears Memorial Trophy, named in honor of the former Arundel and Meade football coach who was a major influence within Anne Arundel County.
Darlene Mears and her two sons were on hand, as they always are, out of respect for their deceased husband and father. Alan Pastrana, who did his student-teaching under the direction of Jerry Mears, introduced Annapolis High as the 2016 Anne Arundel County Team of the Year.
Pastrana spoke eloquently about how head coach Nick Good-Malloy has restored the glory days of Annapolis High football by emphasizing character above football and providing a daily example to his players of how to be a man.
Good-Malloy recalled coming to the Touchdown Club banquet as a senior in high school when Annapolis was previously selected Team of the Year. "That night made a big impression on me and I've been coming to this banquet ever since," he said.
Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo
sat at the head table throughout the awards ceremony and spoke briefly to the audience. It speaks volumes about the prestige of the Touchdown Club banquet that every Navy and Maryland head coach has religiously attended.
Former Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien, himself a two-time winner of the Goldstein Gold Helmet, was the honored guest at Thursday night's banquet and delivered an inspirational speech about perseverance in the face of adversity.