Allstate Sugar Bowl Announces Corbett Award Winners


Allstate Sugar Bowl Announces Corbett Award Winners park

The Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame announced their annual James J. Corbett Award winners as well as a pair of Special Award winners on Wednesday. All of the 2011-12 honorees will be recognized at a banquet on Saturday, August 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

July 31: 2011-12 Yearly Award Winners
August 2: Coming tomorrow – Hall of Famers!

The Corbett Awards are presented to the top male and female amateur athletes in the state and are based on achievements from July of 2011 to June of 2012. For the third year in a row, the male winner comes from Louisiana State University as Tiger football star Morris Claiborne earns the honor. On the women's side, softball star Christi Orgeron from UL-Lafayette will be recognized.

The Corbett Award was created in 1967 to honor the late James J. Corbett and to commemorate his many contributions to intercollegiate athletics and specifically to the Sugar Bowl. When looking through its history, Corbett Award winners have gone on to great success, including 14 NFL players, seven Major League baseball players, four NBA players, including two Hall of Famers, three WNBA players and nine Olympians, including seven Gold Medal winners.

"It is a great honor for the Allstate Sugar Bowl to have a part in recognizing these great young athletes," said Paul Hoolahan, Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. "Looking at the accomplishments of these two, I'd like to thank the selection committee for making excellent choices."

Also being honored at the banquet will be two Special Award winners – a category established by the organization to recognize outstanding efforts and achievements in the sports arena in Greater New Orleans that don't necessarily qualify for other awards. The two honorees are J.T. Curtis and Bo McCalebb. Curtis, in his 43rd season as the head coach at John Curtis Christian School, notched his 500th career win this past season, while McCalebb, a former UNO and O. Perry Walker basketball star, was the leading scorer in the Euro League.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Selection Committee, made up of local media members, honors athletes in a wide-range of categories. The committee has been sponsored by the Sugar Bowl since 1970. In addition to Wednesday's release of the Corbett Award winners and the Special Awards, the organization released its annual award winners on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Committee will announce its 2012 inductees for the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Eddie Robinson Award honoree.

2012 Female Corbett Award Winner – Christi Orgeron, UL-Lafayette Softball
For Christi Orgeron, the past year began and finished with "USA" on her chest and a gold medal around her neck; and in between, she turned in one of the best seasons in the history of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette softball program.

After playing for USA Softball and capturing a Gold Medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games in October, the Mount Carmel High School product returned to Lafayette to prepare for her final season with the Ragin' Cajuns. And what a season it was.

In addition to being named the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, she was a finalist for both the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year honor. She was also selected as the Sun Belt Conference Female Student-Athlete of the Year (for all sports). She led the country in RBI (94, 1.59 per game) for the second consecutive season while ranking fourth nationally in runs scored (66) and seventh in home runs (22) while also batting .351. The New Orleans native broke the SBC and UL career RBI mark against Georgia Tech (3/22), and closed her career ranked sixth all-time in NCAA history with 288. The fifth-year senior had six grand slams this season and finished with nine in her career, both marks are tied for NCAA records. The four-time SBC Player of the Week surpassed the SBC doubles record with 63, and is third on the school's career homerun charts with 70. She was recognized as the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week (2/13-2/19) and was selected to multiple All-America teams.

Orgeron's efforts did not only pay off in individual accolades as she led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 53-6 overall record and a season-high ranking of No. 6 in the country. After hosting (and winning) their first regional since 2002, they defeated Arizona State on the road in the first game of a Super Regional, before dropping the final two.

As soon as the collegiate season was completed, Orgeron was again selected for Team USA and helped the national team to a Gold Medal in the World Cup of Softball. She has continued to play with Team USA since earning her second Gold Medal of the Year.

2012 Male Corbett Award Winner – Morris Claiborne, LSU Football
With a defensive lineup filled with super stars, one continues to draw attention as the top standout for the prolific unit. Defensive back Morris Claiborne becomes the 10th LSU Football player to earn the Corbett Award as well as the second in a row as he follows fellow defensive back Patrick Peterson, the 2011 honoree.

Throughout the season, many recognized that LSU had arguably the top defense in college football history as the Tigers played a brutal schedule and held their opponents to just 11.3 points per game en route to a 13-1 final record. Opponents tallied just seven touchdowns through the air for the entire season. Nine of LSU's opponents were ranked at the time of the games, including four games against top-three foes.

Claiborne was second in the SEC with six interceptions and led the nation in interception yards with 173. He had 46 total tackles on the year, including 28 solo tackles, to lead an LSU defense that ranked number two nationally in total defense. In addition to his play on the defensive side of the ball, Claiborne was also a dangerous return man, recording 398 return yards on 14 kickoff returns in 2011, one for a touchdown. He was second in the SEC  in average return yards with 26.1 yards per return.

The Shreveport product from Fair Park High School had a key interception in the Tiger's 9-6 victory at Alabama on November 5, 2011 and recorded an interception for a touchdown in the SEC Championship game against Georgia on December 3, 2011.

Following his sensational season, Claiborne was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the top defensive back in the nation. He was also a consensus First Team All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was selected No. 6 in the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

2012 Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Special Award-Winners:
Bo McCalebb

McCalebb, a former UNO basketball star, was the leading scorer in the Euro League, the top league outside the NBA, playing for the Montepaschi Siena team in Italy. A graduate of O. Perry Walker High School, McCalebb led his professional team to repeat as the champions of both the Italian Super Cup (preseason competition) and the Italian Cup (regular season) in 2011-12. He took Montepaschi Siena to a quarterfinal appearance in the EuroLeague, averaging 16.77 points per game. He also helped his national team, Macedonia, to its first-ever quarterfinal spot in the FIBA European Championship and into the 2012 London Summer Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July. A national hero in Macedonia, McCalebb was the FIBA Europe Fan's Choice as the Player of the Year in 2011. He was the only non-NBA player named to the 2011 FIBA European Championship All-Tournament Team.

J.T. Curtis
Curtis became the second coach in the history of football – college, prep or professional – to win 500 games in a career, all at John Curtis Christian High School. Now preparing for his 44th season as head coach, he notched his 500th win in the midst of a perfect 14-0 season en route to a state-record 24th state championship in 2011. His teams have reached the title game 16 straight seasons, going 12-4 in that stretch. Curtis has seen his team win 89.9 percent of their games; a record of 506 wins, 54 losses and 6 ties. His teams have reached the state playoffs for 37 consecutive seasons and have won titles in three different classifications. The 2011 season marked his 12th perfect season and 18th team that was undefeated during the regular season. Curtis serves as headmaster of the school owned by his family, has nine grandchildren, and recently became an ordained minister.