HOLLIDAYSBURG - Rachel McClain, the 2012 Hollidaysburg Area High School graduate who excelled on defense and as a long-distance shooter on the Lady Tigers' back-to-back District 6 Class AAA girls championship teams, was named the recipient of the 12th annual Lynnette Williams Spirit Award on Sunday between games at the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA Women's Summer Basketball League.
"It was so exciting. It's such an honor. From everything I've heard, Lynnette was a great person,'' McClain said. "It lets a lot of people see that there are a lot of other aspects to life beyond being a basketball player.''
Since 2001, the award has been given annually to a Blair County girls basketball player who demonstrated the same love and respect for the game that the late Williams did. Williams was a star at Hollidaysburg and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High Schools who was killed in a tragic auto accident before her senior season on Oct. 12, 1999.
"Rachel is unquestionably an outstanding person with the qualities and characteristics for which the Lynnette Williams Spirit Award has been created to honor,'' Sue Kovenky, representing the Gerald Spalding Chapter of the PIAA Referee Association that recommends a recipient of the award each year, said through a press release.
McClain was presented the award by Lynnette's parents, Beth and Kevin, and YMCA executive director Tom Kopriva. Tim Sissler also gave McClain a $500 scholarship check on behalf of corporate sponsor Reliance Bank.
A four-year varsity player at Hollidaysburg, McClain was a District 6 Scholarship Award winner and received an H Pin and the President's Award from her school in recognition of her academic excellence. She also was a member of the National Honor Society.
McClain worked as a volunteer instructor at several youth basketball camps as well. She is the daughter of Debbie and Pat McClain and has three younger siblings - Ashley, 16; Partick, 14; and Sierra, 11 - all of whom play basketball.
"It's very important to be a well-rounded person,'' Rachel McClain said. "My parents always said I better get good grades, I always would do the best I could.''
Pat McClain knew Williams personally.
"It's truly an honor,'' Pat McClain said of his daughter winning the award. "I'm very proud. All the little awards she's won over the years don't come close.''
McClain will be a freshman this fall at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where she will play basketball. She will major in exercise science and intends to pursue a career in physical therapy.