Winners Announced for 2014 Musial Awards
The St. Louis Sports Commission Announces Winners
of the 2014 Musial Awards, Presented by Maryville University
[St. Louis, MO] – A nine-year-old swimmer who gave his championship trophy to an ailing rival. A high school wrestler who lost his state championship match, but still had the presence of mind to hug his opponent’s father, who is battling cancer. A professional golfer who withdrew from the U.S. Open because he might have committed a penalty during his qualifying round.
These are just some of the remarkable stories of selflessness, kindness and integrity in sports that will be celebrated at the 2014 Musial Awards presented by Maryville University. Taking place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Peabody Opera House in downtown St. Louis, the Musial Awards honor Stan the Man’s legacy and the year’s most inspiring stories of sportsmanship. The event is produced annually by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the National Sportsmanship Foundation.
This year’s award recipients include one of the most respected sports personalities and one of the year’s brightest sports stars. Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre and Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis will accept two special awards at the Musials. Torre is receiving the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship – the pinnacle honor bestowed at the event. Davis is being presented the Musial Award for Extraordinary Character in recognition of the remarkable poise, maturity, and modesty she displayed amidst her amazing accomplishments in Williamsport. In August, the 13-year-old became the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series.
Joining Torre and Davis as 2014 Musial Awards honorees are:
· Josh Zuchowski: One of the top young swimmers in the country, Zuchowski won first place at a South Florida swim meet in December. He proceeded to send his trophy to his swimming rival, Reese Branzell, who missed the meet after being hospitalized with a bone infection. Accompanying the trophy was a card from Zuchowski to Branzell that said, “I am so sorry that you have not been feeling well. Get well soon so we can get back to battling in the pool. I have looked up to you since I was seven. You were an inspiration for me to swim fast. I would rather get second with you at the meet than win with you absent. I won this trophy for you today.”
· Malik Stewart: In March, Malik Stewart wrestled Mitchell McKee in the finals of the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Championship. Stewart lost the match, but instead of wallowing in defeat, he shook hands with McKee and then ran over to McKee’s dad, who is fighting terminal cancer, embraced him and told him to stay strong.
· Jason Millard: A two-time All-American golfer at Middle Tennessee State, Millard qualified for the U.S. Open in June. But during his qualifying round, while preparing for a shot out of a sand trap, he thought he may have touched the sand ever so slightly before his swing – which would result in a two-shot penalty. No one saw him ground the club, and Millard wasn’t even sure if it happened, but on the way from his home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to the Open at Pinehurst, he pulled off the road, called the USGA and withdrew from the tournament.
· Olivet Youth Football: Last fall, the members of the 8th grade youth football team from Olivet, Mich., secretly hatched a plan to create an uplifting moment for one of their teammates. Without telling their coaches, they decided to take a dive at the one-yard line to set up the “Keith Special.” On the next play, they handed the ball to Keith Orr, a special-needs student. With the rest of the team blocking for him, Orr carried the ball across the goal line for his first touchdown.
· David Belisle: Following his team’s heartbreaking loss in an elimination game at the Little League World Series in August, Coach Belisle delivered an immensely heartwarming and compassionate postgame speech to the Cumberland, R.I., Americans. His remarks went viral, and are a model for those who coach youth sports.
· Derek Herber: This past spring, the North Attleboro High School track and field team won the Massachusetts state championship. But the day after winning the title, Coach Herber realized a scoring error had occurred, and his team should have come in third. In a refreshing act of honesty and integrity, he alerted officials, and North Attleboro relinquished its first place finish.
· Nathane Simniok: In the second half of a closely-contested conference tournament semifinal basketball game, Simniok, a senior playing for College of the Ozarks, battled an Oklahoma Wesleyan player for a loose ball that went out of bounds. The referee awarded possession to College of the Ozarks. Simniok immediately approached the ref and told him he last touched the ball, resulting in the call being reversed. When the coaches asked for an explanation, the official responded, “No. 31 said he hit it last. He did the right thing!” Both teams and the crowd applauded Simniok for his honesty.
· In addition to those from around the nation receiving Musial Awards, two local individuals will also be honored: Cari Hampton and James Hawkins. For more than a decade, Hampton has selflessly volunteered at the Mike Bush Fantasy Baseball Camp for the Hearing Impaired – often taking multiple vacation days from work to help out. Since 2007, she has served as the camp’s director in a volunteer capacity. Hawkins is being recognized for the tremendous kindness and compassion he exemplified in appointing 13-year-old Nathan Laws to an assistant coach position with the Wentzville Wildcats. Nathan, who has loved playing football since he was in fourth grade, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a rare disorder. While he can no longer play football, the coaching opportunity has brought him great joy and something to fight for.
Stories on all of the 2014 Musial Awards honorees can be found at www.stlsports.org/awards/honorees.
MUSIAL AWARDS TICKETS & BROADCAST:
Tickets for the Musial Awards are on sale through Ticketmaster. Tickets are $40 (orchestra level seating) and $25 (mezzanine level seating), and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, at the Ford Box Office at Scottrade Center, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, or by phone at 800-745-3000. Additional service and handling fees may apply. As part of a special partnership with Southwest Airlines, those purchasing tickets online, by phone or at the box office will receive a $50 gift certificate good for air travel on Southwest for each ticket ordered. More details can be found at www.MusialAwards.com.
In addition to the live awards show on Nov. 22, the Musial Awards will air as a primetime one-hour television special on KSDK-TV NewsChannel 5, St. Louis’ NBC affiliate, on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. An encore presentation will be shown on Christmas Day at noon. Last year’s Musial Awards broadcast recently won two Mid-America Emmy Awards for best sports special and best sports news feature.
About the St. Louis Sports Commission
The St. Louis Sports Commission is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that grows, strengthens and moves St. Louis forward through sports. The organization uses the power of sports to enhance the area’s quality of life and generate economic and social benefit for the St. Louis region.
About Maryville University
Maryville University is a selective, comprehensive, and nationally ranked private institution with nearly 6,000 students. Maryville offers more than 75 degrees at the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels to students from 50 states and 33 countries. Consistently ranked as a top private school by Forbes and Kiplinger’s, Maryville has been named the No. 1 Overperforming University in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the past two years. Maryville’s athletics teams compete at the Division II level in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Founded in 1872, the University is ideally situated on 130 picturesque acres in West St. Louis County.