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Mia Hamm coming to Salem for Statesman Journal Sports Awards

Mia Hamm is a two-time gold medalist with the U.S. women's soccer team.

Mia Hamm is a two-time gold medalist with the U.S. women’s soccer team.

When we rolled out the red carpet last year to honor the best in high school sports in the Mid-Valley, we set the bar high.

We brought in Jerry Rice, arguably the NFL’s greatest receiver of all-time, to help us celebrate. He shared his personal story on stage and personally congratulated each award winner.

So how do we top that?

We do it all over again, only this time we invite arguably the greatest women’s soccer player of all time.

Mia Hamm will be our special guest at the 2017 Statesman Journal Sports Awards on June 6 at the Salem Convention Center.

Tickets for the dinner event are on sale now, with an early-bird special of $50 per ticket. After March 12, tickets are $65.

Hamm is widely regarded as not just the greatest women’s soccer player of all time but one of the greatest American women athletes of all time. She led the United States to two World Cup titles (1991 and 1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004).

But perhaps her greatest accomplishment has been as an ambassador for the sport.

During her prime, she was the Michael Jordan of women’s soccer. Every little girl with a soccer ball at her feet wanted to be Mia, just like every little boy with a basketball in his hands wanted to be Michael.

At 15, she became the youngest player to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. She went on to become a five-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year, the most any player has been honored. In 1999, Nike named a building after her at its World Headquarters in Beaverton.

She retired after the 2004 Olympics and is now busy raising three children with her husband, former All-Star baseball player Nomar Garciaparra. She also runs the Mia Hamm Foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for families in need of a marrow or cord blood transplant and to the development of more opportunities for young women in sports. Her latest endeavor is helping to bring a second Major League Soccer franchise to Southern California.

PREVIOUS SPORTS AWARDS: Memorable moments 

We expect Hamm to share her personal story on stage just like Rice did at last year’s event, and help us honor the best of our local athletes.

The top athletes from 19 sports will be recognized, along with Coach of the Year and Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

We will again present community awards that are nominated on and voted on by you. In addition to Heart and Desire, Courage and Comeback athletes of the year, we are creating new awards for Cheer and for Dance and Drill.

Nominations for those awards are open now through March 5. Three finalists will be selected in each category, and voting will take place March 13 through April 9.

We also are excited to announce a new Scholar Athlete Award. Each school will be able to nominate one student-athlete who excels on the field or court as well as in the classroom. A panel of judges will select a winner to receive a $5,000 scholarship.

High school sports coverage: West Salem earns district swimming title | Tri River is home to 2A powers | Silverton posts school-best finishes | Peter McKinley goes from homeless to hero

The Capitol Cup will once again recognize the top sports program in the Mid-Valley.

Stay tuned for more information about the event. In the meantime, mark your calendars for June 6. You won’t want to miss the 2017 Statesman Journal Sports Awards.

“Forward This” appears Wednesdays and Sundays and highlights the people, places and organizations of the Mid-Willamette Valley. Contact Capi Lynn at clynn@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-399-6710, or follow her the rest of the week on Twitter @CapiLynn and Facebook @CapiLynnSJ.

Tickets

Go to StatesmanJournal.com/SportsAwards

Nominations

Go to StatesmanJournal.com/Nominate

Photo gallery: Winner photos from Mid-Valley Sports Awards

Mia Hamm retired from soccer after the 2004 Olympics but continues to be an ambassador for the sport.

Mia Hamm retired from soccer after the 2004 Olympics but continues to be an ambassador for the sport.

Mia Hamm will be the special guest June 6 for the Statesman Journal Sports Awards at the Salem Convention Center.

Mia Hamm will be the special guest June 6 for the Statesman Journal Sports Awards at the Salem Convention Center.