I can't imagine not having sports in my life right now. It's what drives me everyday.” If forced to give up a sport, Albano says it would likely be basketball. His hopes are to play football and baseball in college but understands that he may someday ...
Bishop England junior Leo Albano and Porter-Gaud senior Maggie Berlin have one major thing in common. As athletic standouts in their respective high schools, each describes themselves as “extremely competitive.”
That drive to succeed in whatever they attempt is why Albano and Berlin are The Post and Courier All-Lowcountry male and female athletes of the year for the 2016-17 school year.
Albano is a three-sport star, excelling as a quarterback in football, a small forward in basketball, and a pitcher/outfielder in baseball. He helped lead the Bishops to the Class AAA state championship in baseball last month, earning all-state honors.
“Winning a state championship is the ultimate for any high school athlete so this spring was pretty special for me,” said Albano, one of the top students in his class with an eye on attending an Ivy League school. “What made it more special was the adversity that we had to overcome this season. Early on we didn’t have the chemistry and we really had to work together to turn our season around.”
Albano will be under center for a fourth football season this fall. He has totaled 2,655 career passing yards along with 2,047 rushing yards with more than 60 career touchdowns.
In basketball last season, he averaged 11.7 points per game as the third-leading scorer on a region championship team.
And, this spring, he batted over .300 and won a handful of games on the mound. Soon after the celebrating for baseball was done, he went right to work preparing for the upcoming football season.
“I relax some but I enjoy being active and I love competing,” Albano said. “I got excited for football right after baseball was done. I get excited for basketball as soon as football is over and the same for baseball. I can’t imagine not having sports in my life right now. It’s what drives me everyday.”
If forced to give up a sport, Albano says it would likely be basketball. His hopes are to play football and baseball in college but understands that he may someday have to choose just one sport to focus on.
Perhaps his biggest role, and the one he is most proud of, is that of big brother to three younger sisters – Emma, Olivia and Ava. All three are athletic and look to someday out-do their brother. Emma is a rising sophomore at Bishop England and set the school record in the shot put this spring.
“I wish I had her work ethic and her time management skills,” Albano said. “She’s going to be more successful than me. All three of them will be.”
For Berlin, there are few things she isn’t willing to try. She came to Porter-Gaud in her sophomore year and was a three-year starter in goal for the soccer team. She helped lead the Cyclones to the SCISA AAA state finals this spring.
While perfecting her soccer skills (which landed her a scholarship to College of Charleston), Berlin also took up the shot put in track. Dividing her practice time throughout the spring was difficult, but Berlin managed to win the state championship in the shot put.
Berlin played forward on the basketball team, while also joining the sporting clay shooting team in tribute to her former classmate, Legree Thrower, who passed away in May of 2016.
“That was his thing, the sporting clays team, so I saw it as an amazing opportunity to honor him,” said Berlin, who was honored as the team’s rookie shooter of the year. “I had never shot a gun before. I had no idea what I was doing but I love a challenge. I definitely looked out of place but I learned a lot and I loved doing it.”
Competing was only part of Berlin’s love for Porter-Gaud athletics. She was voted homecoming queen in the fall. She also was the first female in school history to take over the lead role as spirit leader at sporting events. Her official name – “Cyclone Woman.”
“Forever it was Cyclone Man who led the student sections at games and the female was sort of the sidekick,” she explained. “I decided I wanted to be the leader so I just took over running the show. I had so much fun and my personality just fit with the job. I like screaming and being crazy and this was a way I could be involved in school spirit.”
An avid history buff, Berlin hopes to someday combine her sense of adventure and her love of history to travel the world. Might she one day climb Mt. Everest? Or maybe traverse the Sahara Desert?
“Bring it on, I am up for almost anything,” says Berlin, who plans to major in sociology or archaeology. “I love a challenge. I love to try new things, to experience different things in life. I’m all in.”
All-Lowcountry Spring Sports
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Zeniyah Lawrence, Wando
Quincy Mitchell, Hanahan
Emma Pizzo, Bishop England
Riley Seay, Wando
Riane Coman, Academic Magnet
Charlie Marino, Wando
Jordan Fabian, Hanahan
Josh Church, Ashley Ridge
Reilly Wilson, Hanahan
Top Kamnark, Cane Bay
south carolina,porter-gaud school,leo albano,maggie berlin,bishop england high school,ivy league,college of charleston,football,all-lowcountry,prepzone,