Original article from The Salem Eventing News
What’s older than every James Bond movie ever made, as prestigious as any individual award handed out to high schoolers in the Bay State, and awarded each spring to the top student-athlete from across the North Shore landscape?
When it comes to prestige, notoriety and accomplishment, The Salem News Student-Athlete Award — which for the 56th time will be awarded this Thursday — has virtually no equal.
The award, sponsored by Salem Five, will be chosen from one of our 14 area high schools and awarded during a gala dinner ceremony at the Danversport Yacht Club beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The award celebrates the best of the best in our region, those student-athletes who combine brilliance in the classroom, excellence and sportsmanship in athletics, the ability to be a positive influence in their community, and showing a partiality towards helping others.
One student-athlete from each of our 14 Salem News area high schools — Beverly, Salem, Danvers, Peabody, Marblehead, Swampscott, Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich, Masconomet, Manchester Essex, Bishop Fenwick, Pingree, Essex Tech and St. John’s Prep — have been chosen by their principal and athletic director to best represent their school for this year’s event. Each of the 14 nominees are profiled by The Salem News in this special supplement, both in words and pictures.
On Thursday, the nominees will come individually to The Salem News for a 15-minute interview by a panel of five judges. Those interviews, along with their academic, athletic and out-of-school accomplishments, will help determine who the 2018 Student-Athlete recipient will be.
The award has been given out every year but one since 1962 when Peter Zeitzoff, a Beverly High football star, captured the inaugural title of The Salem News Student-Athlete of the Year.
What started as a ceremony to honor those who shone locally on the gridiron has grown by leaps and bounds over the last six decades. Girls and boys from across the athletic spectrum are included and every area school has had one of their student-athletes capture the honors at least once, led by Masconomet with eight winners over the years.
Last year’s winner was Hugh Calice of Beverly High, the sixth time a student from the Garden City has been so honored. Masconomet Regional has had more Student-Athlete winners from any other school with eight, and all 14 of our area schools have been represented at least once.
The guest speaker for this year’s ceremony will be Lauren Blodgett. A 2007 graduate of Peabody High School, where she was Class President and captain of the volleyball, basketball, and softball teams, Lauren went on to study at Boston College and Harvard Law School. She has since worked abroad in Austria, South Africa, Thailand and Morocco. She is now an attorney at a nonprofit in New York City called the Safe Passage Project, where she represents immigrant children who are facing deportation.
Following dinner, each of the 14 student-athletes will be individually recognized at the banquet and receive some gifts before Blodgett gives a short speech to those in attendance. The 56th annual Student-Athlete of the Year will be announced after that, with the winner receiving a $1,000 Nelson Benton Scholarship, named in honor of longtime Salem News reporter and editorial page editor Nelson Benton, who retired in 2013.
The winner will also be given a commemorative bowl signifying their win. In addition, their name will be engraved on the Student-Athlete trophy, which will reside in the winner’s school until next year’s ceremony. The Paul Revere-style bowl made of sterling silver has the names of all 55 previous winners engraved on its base.
This year’s Student-Athlete judges are Dr. Hugh O’Flynn of Ipswich, an orthopedic surgeon at Beverly Hospital; Freddi Doeringer, Executive Director of the Northeast Massachusetts Red Cross; Joe Riley of Salem Five Bank; Andrew DeFranza of Harborlight Community Partners; and Phil Stacey, the Executive Sports Editor of The Salem News.