Jimmy Collins Special Awards 2016While there are many different categories of awards presented by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, some years the committee finds that there are people deserving of recognition who do not necessarily fit into one specific category. For that reason, the Committee presents the Jimmy Collins Special Awards to outstanding individuals and organizations. Collins was a longtime New Orleans sportswriter who is credited with creating the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards and forming the awards committee in 1958.

This year’s Special Award winners are being recognized for excellence throughout their high school careers. While Princeton Carter excelled athletically at Isidore Newman School, his off-the-court accomplishments drew the eye of the Sports Awards Committee. Gabrielle Jennings, from First Baptist Christian School, was a strong contender for Greater New Orleans Athlete of the Year honors, but the committee recognized that her unprecedented career success was deserving of a Special Award.

Carter, who won three consecutive LHSAA state championships in tennis, recognized a community need as a 13-year old when he noticed a homeless man wearing military clothing.

“I said that can’t happen,” Carter recalled. “Especially in a country like this where we depend so much on our freedom. They fought for freedom, but they are not free to live. He wasn’t living. He was just surviving. That really hit me.”

With the encouragement of his mother and the assistance of his younger sister Kennedi, Carter started a nonprofit group called My Brothers Keeper NOLA, whose mission is to “make the world a better place, one meal at a time.”

Since its start, Carter’s group has helped raise $30,000 in gift cards and donations. He has also partnered with Volunteers of America to donate clothes, shoes, books and toys. His Dress for Success clothes drive helped give donations to Covenant House and he also helped establish Volunteers of America’s Youth Leadership Council, another group that helps with donations throughout the city.

Carter, who graduated from Newman in May, plans to continue his community service efforts in Connecticut. He announced that he will play his collegiate tennis at Wesleyan University.

Jennings is also a May high school graduate, who will compete athletically in college – she will run for the track team at Furman University this fall after possibly establishing herself as the winningest athlete in Louisiana high school history.

While her senior season saw her win six state championships in track and field, throughout her amazing career, Jennings won 44 state championships. Her first state title came in 2009 when she was just a fifth-grader. In all, Jennings haul is beyond impressive:

Eight cross country championships (2008-15)
Eight 1,600-meter outdoor championships (2009-16)
Eight 3,200-meter outdoor championships (2009-16)
Six 800-meter outdoor championships (2011-16)
Five 3,200-meter indoor championships (2009, ’11-12, ’14, ’16)
Three 1,600-meter indoor championships (2013-15)
Three 4×400-meter outdoor championships (2011-12, ’15)
Two 400-meter outdoor championships (2014, ’16)
One 800-meter indoor championship (2014)

“Running has given me opportunities to experience a variety of things, but I do give myself time to be a regular high school student,” Jennings told NOLA.com. “I’m going to miss it, that’s for sure.”

As Jennings finished her final lap at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Championship meet at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium, the stadium announcer detailed her list of titles through the years.

“When he started announcing that my first thought was, I don’t need to hear this right now,” Jennings said. “But I’m glad he did. It was a nice way to finish. It wrapped everything up.”

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