Dick Vitale, college basketball’s top analyst and ambassador, will be the keynote speaker for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All Arkansas Preps awards banquet, sponsored by CHI St. Vincent. Vitale will speak at the event and take part in presenting the athletes’ awards.
The banquet will be held on Saturday, June 20, in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The event will honor more than 300 high school athletes from across the state who have excelled in one of nine sports. Former Arkansas Razorback and current radio co-host David Bazzel and former NFL superstar Keith Jackson will have important roles in the program at the banquet.
All Arkansas Preps was started by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before the 2012-2013 season and the end-of-the-year awards banquet featured keynote speaker Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. NFL quarter back last year Drew Brees was the honorded guest.
All Arkansas Preps celebrates high school athletes from across the state and their accomplishments in nine different sports. An editorial committee from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette picks first, second and sophomore male teams in football, basketball, baseball and soccer, and female teams in basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer. Male/female teams in golf, tennis and track are chosen through Overall and Meet of Champs statewide competition. The committee polls coaches and media members from across the state for team recommendations, taking into account individual statistics and team success from the previous season.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette started all Arkansas Preps before the 2012-2013 season, and the end-of-the-year awards banquet has featured keynote speakers Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“We were thrilled with the response from the student athletes, sponsors and those who were able to attend the previous two events,” said Tabitha Cunningham Events and Sponsorship Director of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “Peyton and Drew are both incredible athletes and role models who definitely set the bar high for our All Arkansas Preps Event. This year, we wanted to bring in someone who can motivate and inspire the athletes and attendees on a different level. Vitale is an extremely passionate speaker with an incredible story and even more remarkable view on what he calls the game of life.”
Vitale’s roots are as a coach for the University of Detroit and for the Detroit Pistons in the 1970s, but he is most known for his color commentary on ESPN where his knowledge, preparation and enthusiasm are unparalleled. He has created a many household phrases including "Awesome, Baby" and is a popular figure outside of sports as well appearing in movies and TV throughout his career. He currently is a regular contributor during NBA season on ESPN and in print with ESPN The Magazine, the Basketball Times and USA Today.
All Arkansas Preps celebrates high school athletes from across the state and their accomplishments in nine different sports. An editorial committee from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette picks first, second and sophomore teams in football, basketball, baseball and soccer, and female teams in basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer. Male/female teams in golf, tennis and track are chosen through Overall and Meet of Champs statewide competition. The committee polls coaches and media members from across the state for team recommendations, taking into account individual statistics and team success from the previous season.
"The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a long history of honoring athletes in our home state, but this takes it to a new level. I am personally excited about our role in this great event that will recognize the best high school athletes,” said Wally Hall, Assistant Managing Editor/Sports for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The team selections will appear in the newspaper and online at www.allarkansaspreps.com Here is a tentative schedule of the announcements: Golf: Nov. 9; Tennis: Nov. 16; Volleyball: Nov. 23; Football: Dec. 28; Basketball: April 5; Track: May 24; Softball and Baseball May 31; Soccer: June 7.
A special section highlighting all the teams and the event will be published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Friday, June 26.
Student/athletes that make up each sports teams (first, second and sophomore) will receive free admission to the event. More than a thousand people will attend, including student/athletes, coaches, parents and sponsors. Vitale will present the Outstanding Player Award in each sport (male and female) as well as the Overall Male Athlete, Overall Female Athlete and Coach of the Year.
Other awards will be given to honor special athletes that have made an impact on and off the field. CHI St. Vincent will present an award to a student athlete who has overcome a health challenge to excel in one of the nine sports.
The P.A.R.K Education Award will recognize one athlete who has made great achievements on the field and in the classroom. The Hussman Community Award will be presented to an athlete who has a great impact on their community. All those honored will be chosen by committee from entries submitted by high school coaches and the general public.
The All Arkansas Preps event is also sponsored by First Security Bank, Arkansas Select Buick GMC Dealers and Deltic Timber.
Tickets are on sale to the public for $75 per person and can be purchased by clicking here. (Note - athletes on All Arkansas Preps Teams receive free admission and parents are given special rates. Two per student, click here.)
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