News and Tribune

High School Sports

June 27, 2014

NTSPY AWARDS: News and Tribune honors area’s best athletes, coaches and team

Providence volleyball named area’s best team

NEW ALBANY — In true awards-show fashion, complete with spinning stage lights, booming music, glamorously-sequined presenters, a big-screen backdrop and one energetic emcee, the inaugural News and Tribune Sports Performance Yearly (NTSPY) Awards were a complete success in honoring the best of the best of the area’s student athletes, teams and coaches.

“It was just tremendous,” said Joe Glover, athletic director at IU Southeast, which hosted Thursday’s event in the Ogle Center’s Richard K. Stem Concert Hall, “and I think it’s going to just get bigger and better every year.”

Led by local emcee Brent Rogers, the program began with individual honors for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons and ended with the award for the 2013-14 NTSPY Team of the Year, which went to the state champion Providence volleyball team, winners of its first-ever Class 2A title back in October and owners of a 29-4 record.

“I feel like this is just the exclamation point on an already amazing year,” said Pioneers’ leader Terri Purichia, who was also presented with the NTSPY Coach of the Year award. “We had a great run and a great team. I’m so glad this group won Team of the Year because, honestly, they are 100 percent the team of the year in so many ways.”

Jacquie Hornung, who helped lead that Providence team as a sophomore, won the honor for Girls’ Athlete of the Year, thanks to her success on the court as well as on the softball field, where she steered her team to a regional championship.

“This is really such a nice honor,” Hornung said while clutching her lovely glass award in her hands. “It makes me kind of speechless, actually. It’s just so nice that they’re honoring these athletes who put in so much time and hard work.”

Floyd Central’s Gaige Klingsmith was the Boys’ Athlete of the Year NTSPY honoree, after excelling in both football — 1,589 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns — and in track and field, where he finished seventh in the state in the 100-meter dash.

A couple of familiar local legends were also honored Thursday night. Floyd Central tennis coach Rick Miller earned a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd as he made the way to the stage in his wheelchair to collect his NTSPY Inspiration in Achievement Award.

Miller, who began the Highlanders’ tennis program in 1973 and still runs it to this day, has coached mostly from a sitting position since an injury during surgery in 2005 left him with limited movement in his legs. In 2013, he became the all-time winningest coach in Indiana high school boys’ tennis history. Miller currently has amassed 668 boys’ wins. He has also led the girls’ team to 16 sectional titles, 11 regional titles and two semistate crowns.

And he’s not finished yet.

“I love my kids. It’s what I do. It’s my life,” he said. “This award — well, when somebody says you’re an inspiration, that’s really something. I’ve had a lot of inspiring people in my life — my brothers, my dad, my wife — and I’ve had a lot of good role models. This is just really great.”

Lee Kelly — long-time voice of the New Albany Bulldogs who retired from WNAS-FM-TV in the spring of 2013 after four decades — was recognized with the NTSPY Lifetime Achievement Award.

“My pleasure, my honor, has been to be with WNAS for 40 years,” Kelly said, then applauded the night’s event organizers and hosts. “It’s such a wonderful way to honor these athletes. My favorite part of my job was watching these high school kids grow and succeed. This is just a great event. I’ll be back to see this every year.”

New Albany’s Tuwan Payton won the NTSPY for Boys’ Player of the Year thanks to a phenomenal senior year of football, during which he fushed for 2,177 yards on 235 carries and scored 24 touchdowns. The Girls’ Player of the Year honor went to Floyd Central volleyballer Remi Bowman, who — as a junior — led the Highlanders to a regional championship with 965 assists, 47 service aces and 240 service points. Bowman and Payton also picked up NTSPYs for Best of Fall Sports.

“This is a great honor,” Bowman said. “Sitting out in the crowd and being surrounded by so many wonderful athletes who are so deserving, it’s just really cool to be here.”

Clarksville’s Ali Sparkman and Rock Creek Academy’s Jeremiah Wilkinson were presented with NTSPYs for Student-Athlete of the Year after excelling in both sports and in the classroom.

“This program is all about the student-athletes,” added Glover, who assumed the role of AD at IU Southeast in 2010. “And these are all student athletes in the truest sense. They work so hard every day, balancing studies and practices and games and traveling and testing. Any way their accomplishments can be honored is well deserved.”

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