Winfield’s Mary Lawman wins Doug Huff Award for intangible contributions
Anytime Winfield girls soccer coach Marshall Hoff spoke of his team this season, the phrase, “You’ve got to hate to lose more than you love to win” was guaranteed to come up somewhere.
It’s a difficult mantra to definitively interpret, so instead he usually just pointed toward senior forward and captain Mary Lawman when asked to elaborate.
“Without a doubt, it probably fits her best,” Hoff said. “We preach that. It’s the little things we have to give up to win. It’s very special. It’s a mentality.”
Lawman didn’t have to endure much losing in her prep career, with four soccer state championships, two track and field team titles (with one more state meet to go) and, most recently, advancement to the Class AA basketball state semifinals in March.
Her roles in each of those sports varied, and whether she was the team’s best player, a role player or a piece of a multi-athlete puzzle, she will walk away from high school this summer knowing she left everything she had on the pitch, the court or the track.
That endless effort and desire to win, combined with four years of tireless leadership, have earned Lawman the 2017 Doug Huff Award, given by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association to a state athlete whose value stretches beyond what is measured on a stat sheet. Lawman is the first female to win in the three-year history of the award.
Despite her numerous soccer accolades — Lawman will play at Marshall next year — perhaps it was in her secondary sport, basketball, where Lawman most displayed the qualities that personify the Huff Award on a statewide stage. The Generals bowed out to Bluefield in the state semifinals at the Charleston Civic Center on a night a largely young Winfield team uncharacteristically struggled to score.
Lawman, who had been a do-it-all utility player averaging 9.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.2 steals, hit three shots in the third quarter that resulted in and-one opportunities to help keep her team in the game until the bitter end.
The Generals fell that night, but some day, when they scrape the paint from the Civic Center floor, pieces of Lawman’s knees and elbow will likely come up with it as she sacrificed her body all evening to make the plays Winfield needed.
“Oh, my God, it was so bad,” Lawman said. “I couldn’t even walk the next day.”
Lawman didn’t play basketball her freshman and sophomore years, but, as a senior, she got to mentor six freshmen who will play a huge part in trying to build upon the Generals’ run a year ago.
“A lot of girls know how to play, she knows how to win,” Winfield girls basketball coach Shawn Lucas said. “She’s won her whole career and it rubbed off on our other girls.”
It’s the kind of sentiment echoed by most when talking about Lawman.
“She’s just a real unique competitor,” Hoff added. “That gift she has just to flat-out refuse to lose. We preach it and talk about it day in and day out and she’s second to none.”
As the teams walked off the floor at the Civic Center, several of her teammates began to cry, prompting Lawman to spring into action as she grabbed each of them and told them to stop.
In her mind, most of them would be back to give it another run next year. But once in the quiet of the locker room, Lawman admitted it was she that got emotional.
“It was kind of surreal, because I walked into the locker room and it was like, ‘We’re done,’” Lawman said. “I don’t get to play basketball anymore. I wasn’t crying because it was over, I was sad because I don’t get to play with those girls again.”
Tenacious in competition, humble in victory and gracious in the few defeats she had to take, both Hoff and Lucas hope her teammates that will return paid attention to Lawman’s lead.
“I always lead by example,” Lawman said. “I want them to see how it can be done and hopefully give them someone to look up to. I want to be a type of mentor to them, so I’ll always be positive.
“I’ve been taught my whole life that it’s not OK to be mediocre. I always want to be the best, in all sports. I never wanted to be mediocre or like anyone else.”
Lawman will be presented with the Doug Huff Award at the 71sts annual Victory Awards Dinner on May 21 at Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg. Huff, now retired, was the longtime sports editor of The Intelligencer in Wheeling and still serves as the secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Contact Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rpritt.