Rocket City Awards Handed Out At Special Ceremony
HUNTSVILLE- In what hopes to be an annual celebration, the inaugural Woody Anderson Ford Rocket City Awards was recently held at the MARS Music Hall inside the Von Braun Center. The awards program was hosted by WZZN-FM, 97.7 ESPN The Zone and presented by the Huntsville Sports Commission.
Awards were handed out in numerous categories including high school, college and professional sports, plus a special Billy Neighbors Lifetime Achievement Award. In all, 15 awards were handed out in the special event.
Nominees included three from the local schools of the immediate Madison area.
Nominated for the Boys High School Team of the Year was the Madison Academy track squad, which won its first ever AHSAA State Championship winning the Class 3A crown with 58 points. Dante Dorsey is the program’s head coach. The Mustangs won just two gold medals in both the 4×100-meter and 4×400 relay squads, but it was the numerous other strong finishes that was the difference in the team scoring that had Madison Academy with 58 points to runner-up Flomaton’s 55. The winning effort in the 4×400, the last event of the meet, nailed down the AHSAA blue trophy, but points accumulated by other finishers put the points on the board.
“Winning the state title is unreal as it was rewarding to see these athletes celebrate winning, especially on the last event of the meet,” said Dorsey, in his eighth year as head coach at Madison Academy and starter of the program for the Mustangs. “We have 25 boys and no girls in our track program and these youngsters performing as they did is the true testament to this program. Our athletes took care of business and having so many of the boys perform well was the difference at the end of the day.”
The Sparkman High girls soccer team was nominated for its state championship effort in the Girls High School Team of the Year category. The Lady Senators posted a 21-4 record as head coach Sammuel Tidmore watched as his squad defeated Auburn 2-1 for the Class 7A title. Sparkman’s Jayda Davis hit for the two winning goals for the win and earned her the Class 7A MVP honor.
The Boys High School Athlete of the Year nominees included Parker Free of Bob Jones. He won his second straight Class 7A State Championship in singles and teamed up with Jonah Moro to claim the doubles state title. The Patriots were runner-up as a team in the State Tournament. For Free, who has been playing competitive tennis for only five years, it was his third straight appearance in the finals finishing runner-up as a freshman and now etching his name in Alabama high school athletics history with his second straight state title doing so over Samuel Sellers of Hoover. “The experience was awesome as we really had no expectations to win, but Jonah played very well as he was on top of his game,” said Free, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 155 pounds and carries a tremendous 4.44 grade point average.
Though nominated, none of the three local nominees were chosen for their respective categories. The winners announced at the June 19 ceremony included:
- North Alabama Men’s College Team of the Year – UAH Basketball
- North Alabama Men’s College Athlete of the Year – Jacari Lane, UNA Basketball
- North Alabama Women’s College Team of the Year – UAH Softball
- North Alabama Women’s College Athlete of the Year – Katie Bracken, UAH Softball
- College Athlete of the Year (From the Area) – Kobe Brown, Missouri Basketball
- North Alabama College Coach of the Year – Les Stuedeman, UAH Softball
- Inspirational Athlete of the Year – Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
- Pro Athlete of the Year (From the Area) – Kyle Wright, Atlanta Braves
- Billy Neighbors Lifetime Achievement Award – Ronnie Stapler
- High School Girls Team of the Year – Hazel Green Basketball
- High School Girls Coach of the Year – Tim Miller, Hazel Green Basketball
- High School Boys Team of the Year – Huntsville High Swimming
- High School Boys Athlete of the Year – Caleb Holt, Buckhorn Basketball
- High School Boys Coach of the Year – Patrick Harding, Buckhorn Basketball