The first year of the Des Moines Register Sports Awards featured hundreds of Iowa’s top high school athletes and coaches and NFL legend Peyton Manning, fresh off a Super Bowl 50 victory in his final season.
It’s hard to top that. But we just may have done so with the 2017 ceremony.
This year’s event will be held June 24 at Wells Fargo Arena and will highlight the achievements of approximately 800 All-Iowa honorees — players and coaches — from 21 sanctioned Iowa high school sports.
Oh, and the speaker?
You know him best as Shaq.
“Last year, we created memories of a lifetime for student athletes from across the state. Many parents and students told us that the event exceeded every expectation that they had,” said David Chivers, the president and publisher of Register Media. “Peyton Manning was a critical component to our sold-out event, and we’re thrilled to announce that Shaquille O’Neal will build on last year’s success, as will hosting the event on the floor of Wells Fargo Arena. While we’ll have more seats available, we expect this year’s event to sell out.”
O’Neal, a Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and current analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” program, will take part in an hour-long Register-hosted interview to headline this year’s Sports Awards. O’Neal was an international sensation due to his dominance (15 NBA All-Star Game appearances, three NBA Finals MVP awards), his sheer size and strength (played at a listed 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds) and personality (he appeared in several big-budget movies and made four rap albums).
“We are very proud to partner with The Des Moines Register and other community leaders to support the All Iowa Sports Awards. This is a great program to recognize young athletes who exemplify achievement, teamwork, leadership and perseverance,” said Eric Crowell, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health-Des Moines.
Athletes and coach of the year honorees have been announced for the following sports: baseball, softball, girls’ swimming, boys’ and girls’ cross country, volleyball and football. The remaining All-Iowa teams will be announced after each sport’s season ends.
Most All-Iowa teams will feature an all-class Elite team, a first team for each classification, an honorable mention group, athlete of the year finalists and a coach of the year. All of these honorees are invited to the ceremony, free of charge. The athlete of the year in each of the 21 All-Iowa sports will be announced and honored at the Sports Awards in June, along with an overall boy and girl athlete of the year, overall coach of the year, team of the year and several other premiere awards.
Those winners are selected by our All-Iowa voter panel, made up of Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen sports staffers and top high school sports experts from all stretches of Iowa.
The Register will also honor the three finalists of our “I am Sport” award, presented by Nike. The award will honor high school student-athletes who are committed to getting kids active in their community. You can nominate deserving athletes at sportsawards.desmoinesregister.com.
An athlete and one of our 21 coach-of-the-year winners who RSVP in advance for the ceremony will be drawn at random to meet O’Neal at a VIP gathering before the Sports Awards.
“We’re honored to once again recognize the achievements of Iowa’s top high school athletes and coaches,” said Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, Inc. “Our Hy-Vee stores are deeply rooted in communities throughout our state. We cheer right alongside our customers, celebrating these young people’s dedication and the positive example they serve for everyone around them. High school athletics promote life skills and the importance of staying fit and healthy, which align with Hy-Vee’s values and core focuses.”
General admission tickets are available for $35, plus fees and processing, at sportsawards.desmoinesregister.com.
A group of athletes from Special Olympics Iowa also will be honored at the Sports Awards.
“Wells Fargo and our 16,000 Iowa team members are deeply committed to our communities and supporting efforts to make them strong, diverse and vibrant,” said Don Pearson, Wells Fargo regional president. “High school sports are ingrained in communities throughout Iowa, so we are thrilled once again to be a major corporate sponsor of the All Iowa Sports Awards Program, which recognizes and celebrates great high school and Special Olympics athletes.”
Special Olympics Iowa CEO Rich Fellingham added: “Special Olympics Iowa is thrilled to be involved in the second annual Des Moines Sports Awards. … A group of our athletes were honored at last year’s banquet and were truly excited and humbled by the unique experience. There was a smile on each athlete’s face all night. SOIA is proud to partner with The Des Moines Register and Wells Fargo again this year to help foster a sense of inclusion for our athletes and shine a light on their amazing achievements, as well as the achievements of all Iowa athletes.”
2016-17 All-Iowa teams
The Register has selected All-Iowa teams for 2016 summer and fall sports. Winter and spring All-Iowa teams will appear in the Register in the coming weeks and months. All honorees, from honorable mention selections to Elite Team picks, receive a complementary ticket to the Sports Awards ceremony. All-Iowa honorees can RSVP here at sportsawards.desmoinesregister.com.