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Allstate Sugar Bowl Announces Greater New Orleans Annual Award Winners
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame announced its annual award winners on Tuesday. These honorees will be recognized, along with the remaining award winners who will be announced later this week, at a banquet on Saturday, August 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The annual awards are based on achievements for the 2011-12 academic year which runs from July-June.
Yearly Award Winners
This year's eight annual awards recognize athletes from the prep, collegiate and professional levels.
"The Allstate Sugar Bowl has worked closely with our Sports Selection Committee for over 30 years," said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. "This year's awards show the high-level of competition in a full-range of sports in the Greater New Orleans area."
The committee recognizes three coaches each year - the Outstanding Coach for prep sports, collegiate sports and professional sports.
The Outstanding Prep Coach for the state of Louisiana is St. Charles Catholic's Frank Monica. Monica led the St. Charles Catholic football team to its first state championship last December, guiding the Comets to a 9-8 victory over Amite in the Class 3A state title game. With the win, the Comets finished their season with a perfect 15-0 record. For Monica, who has coached at Lutcher, Jesuit, Tulane University and at St. Charles since 1997, this was his second Class 3A title. He led the Lutcher Bulldogs to the championship in 1978. His 2005 and 2008 St. Charles teams were Class 2A runners-up.
This year's Outstanding College Coach for the state of Louisiana is Mark Hudspeth from UL-Lafayette. In his first season after inheriting a 3-9 football team, Hudspeth led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 9-4 mark and their first bowl game in four decades, a thrilling victory over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl - tabbed by many as the most exciting bowl game of the year. The Cajuns' nine wins are a school record and included a perfect 5-0 mark at home, where the team set school and Sun Belt attendance records with an average of 29,171. The season attendance average led the nation in increased attendance (11,788 per game).
Ron Washington, the head coach of the Texas Rangers is the Outstanding Professional Coach for the state for the second straight year. Washington, a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, managed the Texas Rangers to their second straight World Series appearance in 2011. His squad set records for overall record (96-66) and home attendance (2,946,949), then defeated Detroit in the ALCS to advance to the World Series, where they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. In addition to being just the second manager in Rangers history to take the team into postseason play, he is just the third African-American to manage a team into the World Series.
Also being honored are three individual athletes. Drew Brees is being recognized with awards as the Outstanding Professional Athlete for the city and for the state. The Saints superstar turned in one of the greatest statistical seasons in NFL history in 2011. The veteran quarterback broke Dan Marino's 27-year old league record for passing yards in a season, finishing the year with 5,476 yards, while completing 71.2 percent of his passes, another NFL record. He finished the year with 46 touchdowns and a 110.6 quarterback rating, both personal bests, while leading the Saints to 13 wins and the NFL South title. He was named the AP's Offensive Player of the Year and earned his sixth Pro Bowl nod. Brees also became the fastest player to 40,000 passing yards during the season.
Christi Orgeron from UL-Lafayette's softball team is the Outstanding Female Amateur from New Orleans, while LSU star Tyrann Mathieu is the Outstanding Male Amateur for the city.
The Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and a finalist for both the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year for 2012, Orgeron also was a Gold Medal winner for the United States Softball Team at the 2011 Pan Am Games in October - and in June, she was selected to the 2012 U.S. National Team. The senior was also named the Sun Belt Conference Female Student-Athlete of the Year (for all sports). She led the country in runs batted in for the second consecutive season while ranking fourth nationally in runs scored and seventh in home runs while also batting .351. The Mt. Carmel product broke the SBC and UL career RBI mark and closed her career ranked sixth all-time in NCAA history with 288. She led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 53-6 overall record and a season-high ranking of No. 6 in the country.
Mathieu had a sensational sophomore season capped by being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and the Walter Camp National Player of the Year honor. Awarded the Bednarik Trophy as the top defensive player in the nation, he was also named a First-Team All-American at cornerback by multiple national organizations, as well as a First-Team All-American as a return specialist by three major media outlets. Selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the AP, he led LSU in tackles (70) and ranked first in the SEC with six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries, while ranking second in the nation with 16.2 yards per punt return.
The final annual award is presented to the Outstanding Team for the state of Louisiana. This year's winner is a different kind of team as the award is being presented to an entire Athletic Department team - the John Curtis Department of Athletics. Patriot athletic teams capped off one of the best years in the 49-year history of the school - and one of the best in Louisiana prep history - with six state championships, all in major sports. Four boys' teams won titles (football, basketball, indoor and outdoor track & field), and two girls' teams were the best in the state (basketball, softball). The phenomenal year was bookended by perfect seasons-the boys' football team going 14-0 in the fall and the girls' softball team rolling to 31-0 in the spring.
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Annual Award Winners:
Frank Monica, St. Charles Catholic Football - Outstanding Prep Coach, State of Louisiana
Mark Hudspeth, UL-Lafayette Football - Outstanding College Coach, State of Louisiana
Ron Washington, Texas Rangers - Outstanding Professional Coach, State of Louisiana
Tyrann Mathieu, LSU Football - Outstanding Male Amateur, Greater New Orleans
Christi Orgeron, UL-Lafayette Softball - Outstanding Female Amateur, Greater New Orleans
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - Outstanding Professional, Greater New Orleans
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - Outstanding Professional, State of Louisiana
John Curtis Athletic Department - Outstanding Team, State of Louisiana
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Selection Committee, made up of local media members, honors athletes in a wide-range of categories. Following Tuesday's release of its annual award winners, Wednesday will see the announcement of the James J. Corbett Award winners and a pair of Special Award winners, and on Thursday, the organization will announce its 2012 inductees for the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Eddie Robinson Award honoree. The Corbett Award has honored the top amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana each year since 1967 (since 2000, a male and a female Corbett Award has been distributed). The Robinson Award was instituted three years ago to honor the legendary football coach from Grambling State University; it recognizes an individual who demonstrates the qualities most closely associated with Coach Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources.