DANNY SMITH: June 5 banquet to showcase area’s top prep athletes, scholars



Occasionally something comes along that turns the mundane, the routine, the necessary into something exciting, unique, special.

One example is Journal, Inc.’s 2016 Fall Sports Awards Banquet held Jan. 12. Due to an outstanding response from coaches, players, administrators, parents and fans of the 22 high schools represented at the event – as well as 20-plus sponsors – by all accounts the evening was quite a success.

The Journal’s role in that result was relatively small; we merely handed out the awards. The credit goes to the good people who submitted nominations, the organizations we contracted with behind the scenes and, of course, the aforementioned coaches, administrators, sponsors and so forth.

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen, the keynote speaker, and emcee Will Kollmeyer also added punch to the occasion.

Mostly, though, it was the youngsters from the five fall sports who made the evening something to remember. The student-athletes exuded respect, humility and class. The night’s crowning moment came with presentation of the final two of the 80-plus awards. Tupelo Christian Prep’s Emma Woolhouse and Mooreville’s Bo Thomas were named the top scholar-athletes in Northeast Mississippi and earned $1,000 and $2,500 scholarships, respectively.

Witnessing what may very well have been the single greatest gathering ever of coaching, athletic and scholastic talent in Northeast Mississippi was truly something to see. In fact, a close-up glimpse of the festivities can be viewed at http://www.djournal.com/sports/video-fall-sports-banquet/

Said one coach, an award recipient, “I love seeing all the talent in the room, all the great coaches. And the kids need to be rewarded. You can turn on the news or read things that are not so good going on in the world, and then you get to come to something like this, and it’s awesome. It kind of lifts your spirits. It’s just good to be a part of it.”

Given the fall awards banquet’s success – and significance – and considering that winter and spring sports are equally worthy of accolade, Journal, Inc. has planned a similar event for June 5, this time recognizing even more teams and athletes in even more sports. And yes, the highlight will once again be the scholar-athlete awards.

The planning process has already begun; soon a nomination form will be available on-line, as will ticket purchases. Numerous other preparations are underway.

The awards banquet will also provide businesses and organizations a golden opportunity to show support for area schools and student-athletes, and benefit from a variety of sponsorship opportunities – the benefits of which go far beyond the event itself. For that matter, there’s no reason an individual cannot invest in a sponsorship. Purchase of a table entitles the sponsor to free tickets and the chance to sit with select athletes and coaches.

Tommy Morgan Realtors, recognizing the privilege of supporting local athletics and providing well-deserved scholarship funding, has signed on again as the overall event sponsor. Plenty of other sponsorship opportunities remain. Call the Journal at 678-1503 for more information.

The spring event will be held at the BancorpSouth Arena Conference Center. It’s not something to be missed. Go ahead and mark your calendar for June 5 and come watch as the top talent in Northeast Mississippi enjoys its collective shining moment.

Danny Smith is general manager of Journal Inc. He can be reached at danny.smith@journalinc.com.

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