Two eighth-graders at Loflin Middle School in Joshua were recently honored by the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation.

Mary Baker received a $2,500 scholarship, and Marty Stinson was a finalist. At an awards ceremony each student received an engraved plaque, T-shirt, necklace and tickets to Texas Rangers and Fort Worth Cats baseball games and had their photos made with Bragan, a former professional baseball player and manager.

The students were also honored recently at a Fort Worth Cats game, where Bobby Bragan spoke to the crowd and introduced Maury Wills, who was also in attendance. Later this summer the winners and finalists will be honored yet again at a Rangers game.

Each student was required to write an essay on how they relate to and aspire to emulate a role model. More than 35,000 students from 108 middle schools representing 18 school districts had the opportunity to participate in the 2006-07 program.

Baker is the daughter of Kerwin and Cynthia Baker. She plays flute in the middle school band and enjoys playing soccer with the Lady Jays soccer team. She is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and participates in her church youth group. She wrote her essay about her sister, Laura, who inspired her to follow high standards with her flute, academics and with the enjoyment of playing soccer. She was selected to participate by faculty sponsor and eighth-grade teacher Geoffrey Burtis.

Stinson is the son of Teri and David Stinson of Joshua. He is active in Owl football and basketball and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He enjoys attending basketball camps and is an avid Dallas Mavericks fan. He wrote his essay about his musician-singer-songwriter brother, Brad Stinson. He was selected to participate by faculty sponsor and eighth-grade English teacher Jill Acklen.

Bragan has been involved with professional baseball for seven decades, beginning in 1937 at the age of 19. His involvement and enthusiasm earned him the nickname of “Mr. Baseball.” He played with Jackie Robinson and served stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. During his managerial years, he was at the helm of the Fort Worth Cats, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.

He established the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation in 1991 to award scholarships to outstanding eighth-graders to give them incentive to do well in high school and continue on to college. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to North Texas students. The foundation’s goal is to recognize outstanding students for scholastic achievement as well as all-around citizenship, as judged by participation in athletics, extra-curricular activities and the community.

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