The News is starting a new high school sports tradition this spring, and a Hall of Famer is helping us kick it off.
The Prep Talk Awards, which will honor the very best of the 2013-14 high school sports year, will debut on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Former Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, will be the keynote speaker of the inaugural event.
Every varsity sport covered by The News will be represented at the banquet, which is believed to be the first time an all-encompassing year-end celebration of Western New York high school sports has ever been held.
Honored will be the All-Western New York first team for football, the All-WNY first teams for boys and girls basketball, and a Prep Talk Player of the Year from more than 30 other sports, from baseball to wrestling, from boys bowling to girls volleyball, and everything in between.
From among the invited Players of the Year, an overall Prep Talk Male and Female Athlete of the Year will be announced at the banquet.
Also invited will be five finalists for the Prep Talk Coach of the Year, with the winner also announced during the banquet.
The Players of the Year for fall and winter sports will be announced and notified shortly and each will be spotlighted in a daily countdown to the first-time event. The spring winners will be announced closer to the event.
Event check-in will be from 5 to 6 p.m., with the dinner at 6 p.m. and the award program to follow.
Tickets for the general public are $45. To purchase tickets, or for more information, contact Lisa Cislo at 849-5522 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are also sponsorship opportunities available for the event; contact Ann Brooker at 849-4413 and email@example.com.
Cheerleading a sport?
It appears likely today that competitive cheerleading, for the first time, will become a sport in the eyes of New York State.
According to a New York State Public High School Athletic Association release, NYSPHSAA president Robert Zayas attended Monday’s meeting of the P-12 Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of Regents, which unanimously approved the recommendation from the New York State Education Department to recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport. The recommendation is headed to the Board of Regents today for final approval.
If it is approved, the NYSPHSAA will set up a strategy for implementation in New York State.
“This is a great step for the progress of cheerleading and tomorrow’s vote by the Board of Regents could be historical,” Zayas said in the statement. “The NYSPHSAA is excited to have cheer potentially recognized as a sport, and a favorable vote will finally allow our association to implement coaching and safety standards for cheer coaches as well as highlight and promote the incredible athletes who participate in the sport with a championship event.”
11th offer is Bona
Howard Washington , the standout sophomore point guard for Canisius High, has continued to attract Division I scholarship offers, with the latest coming from down the road in Olean.
St. Bonaventure became the 11th school to offer the 6-2 sophomore, Washington confirmed.
Washington told me that St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt offered a scholarship after watching a workout last Wednesday. The workout was also attended by the University at Buffalo and Canisius, which have already offered scholarships to Washington.
The complete list of schools to offer Washington, in chronological order: Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College, Boston University, Canisius, UB (prior to 2013-14 high school season), Dayton, Charlotte, Siena (as of February), Ohio U., and St. Bonaventure.
Washington will almost assuredly receive more offers through the spring and summer as he plays for the Albany City Rocks. He has been rated the Class of 2016’s 50th best prospect in the country by rivals.com while he was previously rated 42nd by scouthoops.com.
Around the halls
• Sterling Taplin, this year’s Allen Wilson Award winner as The News Player of the Year for boys basketball, will attend prep school next season. Taplin, who will graduate from Williamsville North this spring, told me he will be going the prep school route. He has been listed as a member of the Class of 2015 on the roster of the Albany City Rocks team competing this spring in Nike Elite Youth Basketball. Taplin’s City Rocks team also includes Nichols 6-foot-8 junior Tanner Schmit, an All-WNY honorable mention selection this season.
• Keir Anderson, a second-team All-Western New York boys basketball selection in 2013 for Middle Early College, has signed a letter of intent with Pensacola (Fla.) State. Pensacola State competes at the Division I level of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Anderson spent last season at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C.
• The News will honor the state champions of the winter — Cardinal O’Hara girls basketball, Frontier boys bowling, Chautauqua Lake girls basketball, St. Joe’s boys hockey and Section VI girls gymnastics — over the next several weeks.