With full list of Kentuckiana Sports Awards winners
The Kentucky Exposition Center transformed into a red-carpet venue Tuesday evening as more than 1800 people dressed to the nines attended the Courier-Journal Kentuckiana Sports Awards Banquet presented by Norton Health. Fifty-one athletes and coaches across 14 different sports received awards.
It was a night the athletes won’t soon forget — they shared a stage with Peyton Manning.
Manning was the guest speaker at the event dedicated to honoring the achievements of the top Kentucky and Indiana high school athletes.
The two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback spoke for nearly 40 minutes in a question-and-answer session with high school sports reporter Jason Frakes that covered a range of topics — his high school career in New Orleans, retirement (he’s becoming a New York Giants fan), Saturday Night Live appearances and the Kentucky Derby (he went seven years in a row when he was with the Indianapolis Colts).
Manning offered advice to the teenagers in the crowd, repeatedly telling them not to rush through high school or college. Every athlete, he said, should learn to slow down and appreciate the people supporting them. At one point, Manning reached into the left side pocket of his navy blue dress pant and pulled out his two Super Bowl rings.
“I’ll probably put these up in a week or so,” he told the crowd. “I don’t need these rings to remind me of the great relationships I’ve had.”
His message hit home for the athletes, many of whom just finished their high school careers. Of the athletes honored Tuesday night, 12 have committed to continue their athletic careers at universities in either Kentucky or Indiana.
PHOTOS | Red carpet photos, Gallery 1
PHOTOS | Red carpet photos, Gallery 2
University of Louisville commit and Manual High School soccer player Emina Ekic was named Kentucky Female Athlete of the Year. The attacker is already highly decorated; she was crowned Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year and was a first-team All-State selection. Ekic led Manual to the Seventh Region semifinals while scoring 23 goals and 15 assists in her junior season for the Crimsons.
That’s quite the resume for a girl who can’t yet buy a lottery ticket. Clutching the sleek trophy tightly backstage, Ekic smiled shyly. “It’s definitely the new favorite.”
Fern Creek High School boys soccer coach John Pedro was awarded Kentucky Coach of the Year. Pedro, whose teams have won four consecutive Sixth Region titles, led the Tigers to a 20-5-1 record and their first-ever trip to the state tournament semifinals.
New Albany High School boy’s basketball coach Jim Shannon received the Indiana Coach of the Year award. In his 18th season, Shannon led the Bulldogs to Class 4-A state championship with a 27-1 overall record and a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play.
Rodjay Burns, a defensive back at Trinity, claimed the Kentucky Male Athlete of the Year award following a season that earned him first-team all-state distinction. Burns, who signed to play for Ohio State this upcoming fall, recorded 24 tackles (20 solo) and four interceptions. He was also a top wide receiver with 44 catches for 744 yards and 14 touchdowns. Burns averaged 12.9 yards on 15 punt returns, including an 83-yarder for a touchdown.
New Albany boy’s basketball star Romeo Langford was awarded Indiana Male Athlete of the Year. A first-team all-state selection, Langford averaged 29.3 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Bulldogs last season en route to the school’s first state championship since 1973. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard is classified as the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2018 by ESPN. Langford is fielding offers from schools including Louisville, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas.
Marissa Hornung, a Providence High School volleyball player, was named Indiana Female Athlete of the Year. A Class 3-A all-state selection, Hornung led the Pioneers in kills and aces on the way to their third straight state title and a new school mark for wins. PrepVolleyball.com voted Hornung its 2015 National Sophomore of the Year. The outside hitter verbally committed to play for Purdue.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to represent not only all the female athletes in Indiana, to be able to say that I received this award and I’m able to benefit the Providence community on their behalf,” Hornung said. “Next year I’ll be back.”
KENTUCKIANA SPORTS AWARDS WINNERS
Romeo , New Albany basketball, Southern Indiana Male Athlete of the Year
Marissa , Providence volleyball, Southern Indiana Female Athlete of the Year
METRO LOUISVILLE AWARDS
Katie , Sacred Heart, Field Hockey Player of the Year
Cole Dowdy, South , Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year
Nicolas , Christian Academy of Louisville, Boys Swimmer of the Year
Asia , Sacred Heart, Girls Swimmer of the Year
Max Emerson, County, Wrestler of the Year
Brandon Flora, St. , Boys Bowler of the Year
Drew , St. Xavier, Boys Tennis Player of the Year
Logan Wyatt, North , Baseball Player of the Year
SOUTHERN INDIANA AWARDS
Marissa , Providence, Volleyball Player of the Year
Emma , Providence, Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Addison , New Albany, Boys Golfer of the Year
Romeo , New Albany, Boys Basketball Player of the Year
Lilly , North Harrison, Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Antonio , Floyd Central, Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year