Like most events last year, the first Sun Preps All-Area awards banquet didn’t go exactly as planned.
The coronavirus turned what was scheduled to be a full in-person celebration of our high school student-athletes into a virtual event compressed into short video clips.
This year, however, the Daily Sun and Venice Gondolier will present the annual awards in a socially-distanced setting at CoolToday Park featuring former Atlanta Braves third baseman and National League MVP Terry Pendleton with gates opening at 5:30 p.m.
There were highlights throughout the year in every sport, but some stood above the rest.
The Venice High girls soccer team and the Charlotte High wrestling and boys weightlifting teams each won team state championships while some individuals — such as Kylah Buckle (track), Lucas Willis (wrestling), Andrew Austin (wrestling), Cody Rice (wrestling), Lance Schyck (wrestling), Madison Atwood (weightlifting), Tara Yount (weightlifting) and Daphnie Toussaint (weightlifting) — also took home the top honors in their respective sports.
Each First Team All-Area athlete will be recognized, but there are other award-winners to announce, as well.
The Athlete of the Year will be announced among three finalists in each sport — from the football field to the basketball hardwood and everything in between.
While every coach of the year was announced with each All-Area team, the overall Coach of the Year will be awarded tonight, too.
And there’s more to being a student-athlete than what’s accomplished on the field.
The Academic All-Stars of the Year — male and female — will also be recognized for showing an exemplary enthusiasm and drive in both athletics and the classroom.
While there’s much to be said about talent and intelligence, there’s also honor in persevering through hardships. The Courage Award will be given to a male and female athlete displaying extraordinary fortitude despite challenging circumstances.
Finally, a male and female athlete will be recognized as the Athletes of the Year — given to the two competitors who set themselves apart across multiple sports.
Anyone interested in attending tonight’s event can still purchase tickets for $15 on Ticketmaster or at the stadium box office until the event begins.