It’s 19 days before Christmas. The snow is starting fly. Shoppers are bustling about. The air is full of OTY’s.
That’s short for “Of The Year,” as in all the year-end awards that groups and organizations hand out. They are a nice pat on the back for those who receive them, a source of debate for those who follow them.
Here at the Press & Dakotan, we are no different. I am currently in charge of two different sets of awards that will be handed out around Dec. 25.
The first, and longer running of the two, are the year-end awards selected by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association.
Since 1954, the SDSWA has handed out honors for the top independent team, college men’s coach and team, and high school boys’ coach and team. Individual honors were first presented in 1958. The group honored its first celebrity, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, in 1964. Other awards were added as female sports became recognized in the state.
Since 1981, the group has honored an athlete, coach and team for both boys and girls in high school, as well as men and women in college. We also recognize an independent team — one not affiliated with a high school or college — as well as independent male and female athletes and a celebrity. A college athlete, for our sake, is defined as someone competing at the college level in the state of South Dakota. (S.D. natives competing outside the state can be selected as “independent” athletes.) Our “celebrity” can either be a S.D. native or someone who competed collegiately in S.D. who is at a high professional, or in some cases Olympic, level.
My staff and I are also in the process of selecting our prep male and female athletes of the year. The criteria are pretty simple, someone who competed for a school in our coverage area during 2008, and has succeeded at a high level. In the past, we have given extra merit to athletes who compete in a number of disciplines.
Now that you know the rules, I’d love to here who you think are the most deserving athletes, coaches and teams in the state. E-mail us at email@example.com or post a comment online to make your voice heard.
As you can probably tell by the look of our sports pages this past week, the winter sports schedule is very close to being off and running.
Many of our area wrestling and gymnastics teams have gotten their start, as have basketball teams south of the border (i.e., in Nebraska). South Dakota basketball squad pick it up next week, with the girls tipping off on Tuesday and the boys lacing it up on Friday.
This year, our cover story will not be about an individual or a team, but the beginning of an era — the shot clock era in South Dakota. In case you haven’t heard, Class AA basketball will now be played under the constraints of a 35-second shot clock, a change people who watched Yankton play the Mitchell boys or Aberdeen Central girls in recent years would say is a long time overdue. There are people on both sides of that fence, and you’ll hear from a few of them. Also, we’d love to hear what you think of the change.
One change you will see in this year’s preview is a new feature at the top of each of the area sections: “Games to Watch” and “Players to Watch.” The names are pretty self-explanatory: We will be giving you what we feel are the three or four games that look like must-see events, as well as the players we feel will have the biggest impact this season.
We would love your input on this as well. Who do you think are going to be the players and teams to watch this year, and why?
I’ve already said this once, but I will repeat myself: E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment online to make your voice heard.
Listen to James D. Cimburek, along with KYNT’s Brady Donovan, on 1450 AM KYNT’s “Breakfast With The Coaches,” live from Yesterday’s Cafe, beginning at 9 a.m. today.