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Jimmy Collins Special Awards

While 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 leader of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and a hard-working community contributor, who is credited with creating the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards and forming the awards committee in 1958.

2020 Demario Davis New Orleans Saints
 Eastbank Little League Little League
 2019 Conner Killian Louisiana Tech
 Joe Scheuermann Delgado Baseball
 2018 Joe Este Bonnabel High School
 Brittany Grunberg 50 Legs Foundation
 2017 Miracle League of New Orleans New Orleans
 2016 Princeton Carter Isidore Newman School
 Gabrielle Jennings First Baptist Christian School
 2015 Manny Barocco Jefferson Parish Athletics
 Jim Ravannack Louisiana wrestling
 2014 Rob Bernardi Nicholls State Athletics
 Paul Hoolahan Allstate Sugar Bowl
 Ragin’ Cajun Athletics UL-Lafayette
 Mark Slessinger UNO Basketball
 2013 Team Gleason Team Gleason
 Robin and Sally-Anne Roberts New Orleans
 2012 J.T. Curtis John Curtis School
 Bo McCalebb O.P. Walker HS/UNO Basketball
 2011 Tyler Dutruch Pope John Paul II
 Lurlyn Fitzpatrick Tulane University
 2010 Sandra Bullock Warren Easton HS
 Kelly Gibson New Orleans golf
 New Orleans Boosters AAABA Baseball
 Harold Shelly New Orleans
 2009 Jim Headrick First Tee of New Orleans
 2008 Dolphin Baseball Delgado Community College
 Privateer Baseball UNO
2004Churchill DownsFair Grounds Race Course
2003Mewelde MooreTulane Football
LSU Football TeamSEC & BCS
Southern University FootballSWAC & NCAA
 2002 George Shinn & Ray Woolridge New Orleans Hornets
 2001 Super Bowl XXXVI Host Committee
 Tommy Henry LHSAA
2000 Randy Mueller New Orleans Saints
1999 Brother Martin Wrestling LHSAA
 New Orleans Times-Picayune
 1990 Alvin Gauthier Cohen High School basketball
 New Orleans Sports Foundation
 1988 Risen Star Horse Racing
 1986 Louis “Red” Slade New Orleans
 1985 Tom Benson New Orleans Saints
 Lou Messina
 1984 Carl Maddox National Sports Festival
 1983 Joe Delaney Kansas City Chiefs
 Dave Dixon New Orleans/Superdome
 1981 Firmin E. Simms NORD/Biddy Basketball
 Brother Melchior Polowy Holy Cross Wrestling
 1980 Brother Martin Hernandez
 1979 Joseph Dorignac, Jr. Fairgrounds Racing
 B.E. Lumzy Carter Woodson Junior High
 Ben Weiner Tulane University
 1978 Commercial Athletic Association
 Joe’s Jungle Marching Club
 Sports Acrobatic School
1975 Art Burke New Orleans States-Item
1974 Jim Hall Louisiana Weekly
1973 John North New Orleans Saints
1972 Herbert J. Hauck Amateur Golf
1971 Dave Dixon Superdome
1970 Lester Lautenschlaeger New Orleans Recreation Dept.
 Hoss Memtsas West Jefferson Football
1969 Doug Atkins New Orleans Saints
 Jack Van Berg Thoroughbred Horse Racing
1968 John Letellier Fairgrounds Racing
1967 John W. Mecom, Jr. New Orleans Saints
1966 Dave Dixon New Orleans Pro Football
1965 Jim Corbett LSU
1964 William H. Bishop Thoroughbred Horse Racing
1963 Jackie Higgins New Orleans

This year the Committee chose to use Jimmy Collins Awards to recognize elite excellence on two different ends of the spectrum. The Eastbank Little League baseball and softball teams, primarily 12-year olds, will be honored after their memorable summer of 2019. And on the other end, Demario Davis, a 6-2, 248-pound linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, will be credited for his extensive work in the New Orleans community.

Photo Courtesy of Eastbank Little League

The Eastbank Little League baseball and softball programs achieved an unprecedented level of success for Louisiana last summer. The Eastbankers became just the second set of teams from the same league to advance to the Little League World Series in both baseball and softball.

Eastbank Little League was founded in 2014 and the girls 12-year old team has won five state championships. After reaching the Little League World Series in 2018, they returned in 2019 and advanced to the championship game before falling in a hard-fought contest.

“We like to say that we inspired the boys with our trip to the World Series last year,” said Sally Moreau, one of the softball team’s three volunteer coaches, along with Randy Deslatte and head coach Ray Weindel.

The Little League boys had an amazing summer of 2019. After winning the Southwest Regional series in Waco, Texas, the boys made their first trip to the revered fields of Williamsport, Pa. After losing their opening game, the team pulled together and won all of their remaining games including an 8-0 championship game victory over Curacao.

Photo Courtesy of Eastbank Little League

“Put the teams together and it’s just a testament to what this area produces — incredible athletes,” said Kevin Johnson, who coaches the boys team with two other volunteers, Scott Frazier and Don Abadie.

Davis, an All-Pro linebacker was one of five finalists for the Alan Page Community Award, the highest honor that the NFL Players Association bestows on its members. The award, “annually recognizes one player who goes above and beyond to serve communities in his team city and hometown.”

Davis earned the Week 8 Community MVP Award from the NFLPA last fall. Initially he was fined $7,000 for a uniform violation after he wore a “Man of God” headband during a game against Seattle. The linebacker appealed the fine and prevailed after receiving a groundswell of support from fans, including students at St. Louis King of France School in New Orleans, who made their own “Child of God” headbands out of paper in support of him, which he called “the cutest thing.”

The linebacker surprised the students with a pizza party and authentic “Child of God” headbands before he and his agents pondered “the best way to turn this into a positive where God gets the ultimate glory.”

Photo Courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

Davis decided to start selling replicas of the headbands and donating the proceeds to the emergency department at St. Dominic Hospital in his home state of Mississippi. Davis personally donated $9,000 of the more than $300,000 that has been raised. His foundation – Devoted Dreamers Foundation – has the stated mission “to equip the Next Generation of Leaders (athletes, entertainers, politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc.) with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically.” The Foundation works to provide inner-city youth with opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable.

Davis has teamed with former Saints tight end Benjamin Watson and current Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman on a variety of causes, including championing criminal justice reform, delivering fresh drinking water to residents of Flint, Mich., and bringing backpacks, books, toys and food to needy families at the United States-Mexico border.

Davis and the Little Leaguers have shown that success comes in a wide-range of packages and can be achieved in a wide-range of pursuits. And the Sports Awards Committee is proud to honor both for their accomplishments.

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