The Grittys, an award ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County student-athletes, are scheduled for Monday, May 4. Like many other events that were planned before stay at home orders and social distancing advisories, the Grittys will take place exclusively online.
According to Steve Levy, Associate Director of Athletics, there was a discussion about whether or not to hold the ceremony this year, given the circumstances.
“There was one early discussion where some expressed that holding the Grittys could be ‘salt in the wound’ to the spring athletes. But once our organizing group met (virtually) and brainstormed some ideas about altering the awards, we quickly pivoted and decided to move forward. Our coaching staff, administration and, most importantly, the student-athletes (by way of their SAAC representatives) bought in, so we forged ahead,” Levy said.
This is not the first time UMBC Athletics must handle broadcasting the Grittys. The department have streamed and recorded the ceremony for the past few years so athletes, parents and staff who could not be at the ceremony could still watch.
Pre-recording the show from home was the biggest concern, but after talks with the manager of UMBC’s New Media Studio, Dustin Roddy, Levy is confident that the show will go well. Levy also explained that the Grittys will have some format changes in terms of the awards.
Instead of Most Valuable and Improved Athletes and Unsung Heroes for each sport, which is traditional and rewards the totality of a sports season, UMBC Athletics will honor those student-athletes in all sports that best characterized the core values of Growth, Respect, Integrity and Teamwork.
Outstanding Athletes and Outstanding Seniors will not be presented because the spring student-athletes did not complete (or for outdoor track and field even start) their seasons. The focus will be on academic awards, since that puts all of the student-athletes on a level playing field. Levy says that the ceremony will be dedicated to the seniors, whose commencement in addition to the Gritty’s has been altered.
One of those senior players, Tyler Moore, a psychology major of the women’s basketball team, says that she is glad the Grittys are still happening, even with the format and award changes.
“Holding the Grittys is important to us, as student-athletes, because it gives a chance to recognize the success of athletes in all sports and to strengthen our bond as an athletics community,” Moore said. “For sports like track and swimming, it is difficult to make it to their meets so something as small as receiving an award at the Gritty’s is a huge deal for them and a chance to showcase their success.”
She added that the awards allow acknowledgment for things outside of athletic ability with recognition for scholar athletes and coaches’ awards.
UMBC Athletics created such awards to acknowledge athletes’ achievements outside of athletics. The department focused this year’s awards on promoting a sense of comradery among UMBC Athletics’ community by acknowledging the spirit of the players and their hard work.
“I can’t really pinpoint one specific favorite memory from past ceremonies, but I do like how they treat us that night specifically,” said Zoe Pekins, a senior media and communications studies major on the women’s lacrosse team. “We go through a lot as student-athletes and during that night we aren’t just treated like that. We get treated like humans.”
Levy, Moore and Pekins all expressed that traditionally, one of the best parts of the evening for them was seeing everyone get dressed up for the event. Though that aspect will not be possible this year, they all also expressed their belief that the Grittys would still be a great and worthwhile event.