Athletics to honor players with awards show

“Joseph Romans”
Senior football player Lamonte Thompson gives his acceptance speech after winning an award at the 2015 Player’s Choice Awards. The second annual awards show takes place May 3 in Norton Auditorium.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

The second annual Player’s Choice Awards, where all UNA athletes and coaches receive recognition for their achievements, takes place May 3 in Norton Auditorium.

With a bigger location and enhanced decoration, this year’s awards show should be better than the first, said Hal Self Field House Administrative Assistant Jacinta Mastin.

Recognizing the athletic department in this form is a good way for every sport to bond, said UNA athletics director Mark Linder.

“At my previous institution we had kind of a year-end banquet where we recognized the student athletes, and it was a nice event,” Linder said. “We could never get it off the ground (at UNA) for some reason. When (Mastin) came up with doing an awards show like the ESPY’s, I was all for it.”

The ESPY’s is a yearly ESPN-hosted awards show, Linder said.

Mastin said there would be 14 awards for the athletes, including five surprise categories. In addition, each team voted for an individual teammate as the “most outstanding” in their sport.

The pinnacle award is the Lion King and Lion Queen, which goes to the ultimate male and female athlete for their achievement in their sport, in the classroom and in the community. The athletics staff selects the winners for this award, Mastin said.

“A lot of people might not know, but our athletes do a lot of community service work,” she said. “It’s a great achievement when you can go to class, practice, play your sport and then give extra time to your community.”

The coaches will also be involved in the fun, as the athletes voted for coaches in different sports for 10 categories, including most strict and most comical.

“Some of (the awards) are no brainers,” Mastin said. “This is a way for the coaches to know that not just their athletes are watching them, but also athletes from different sports.”

Prior to the awards show at 7 p.m., the players will walk into the auditorium on “the purple carpet,” much like a celebrity would walk on a red carpet for an awards show.

To add pizazz to the extravaganza, Mastin said there would be a master of ceremonies and four segments of entertainment.

The entertainment includes UNA’s dance team, “The Roar,” a musical performance from cross-country’s Skip Martin and Jared Melton, a song from women’s basketball senior Janae Lyde, and some dance moves from football senior Diamond Simmons to close the show.

Linder said last year’s location, the Guillot University Center Performance Center, was too small for this event. Moving to Norton Auditorium makes the event more inclusive, he said.

“There are a lot of logistics that go into this,” he said. “Last year, we only had 300 seats, so we had to be very exclusive to who could come. I think having the ability to open it up to 600 people, where everyone can bring a guest, is going to be really nice.”

Many of the players are looking forward to being around student athletes from other sports, said junior football player Hayden Henderson.

“I can’t wait to have another great time,” he said. “We didn’t have that before (Mastin) got here. When she got here, it changed everything. It makes you look forward to something at the end of the year.”

The event is open to the public for $10. Anyone can stop in the Hal Self Field House to purchase tickets, or contact Mastin at [email protected]