Yearly Award Winners, 2002The Sugar Bowl’s Sport Selection Committee chose its 2002 award winners and honored them with a banquet and ceremony in the Louisiana Superdome.
The yearly award winners were:
Outstanding College Coach, State of Louisiana: Tommy Tate, McNeese State football
Outstanding Prep Coach, State of Louisiana: Frank Wilson, O. Perry Walker football
Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, Greater New Orleans: Ryan Martin, Jesuit baseball
Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete, Greater New Orleans: Julie Smekodub, Tulane tennis
Outstanding Professional Athlete, Greater New Orleans: Deuce McAllister, New Orleans Saints
Outstanding Professional Athlete, State of Louisiana: Brian Mitchell, Philadelphia Eagles
Outstanding Prep Player, State of Louisiana: Meghan O’Leary, Baton Rouge Episcopal (three-sport athlete)
Meriting special recognition from the Sports Selection Committee were the owners of the New Orleans Hornets, George Shinn and Ray Woolridge, on behalf of everyone who had a hand in the NBA returning to New Orleans.
Tommy Tate guided the Cowboys to a 13-2 record, their second straight Southland Conference championship and a runner-up finish in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. McNeese’s only losses came at the hands of Nebraska in the regular season and Western Kentucky in the NCAA championship game.
O. Perry Walker coach Frank Wilson commanded the Chargers to a 13-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A state football championship game. Even though Walker lost to John Curtis in the final, they were the first large public school from Orleans Parish to reach the state finals since Warren Easton played for the title in 1958.
Jesuit baseball standout Ryan Martin was an outstanding pitcher and infielder as the Blue Jays won the state prep baseball championship and were runners-up in the State Legion Tournament. He finished 10-3 during the prep season and 12-1 for First District Legion Champion Retif Oil.
Julie Smekodub, a freshman on the Tulane women’s tennis team went 24-4 in singles and 10-2 in doubles last fall and teamed with fellow freshman Jenny Kuhn to win the doubles title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Indoor Championships.
New Orleans Saint running back Deuce McAllister led the NFC in rushing and was named to his first Pro Bowl in only his second season. He gained 1,388 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, both totals rank No. 2 all-time for the Saints.
Thirteen-year veteran Brian Mitchell moved past Walter Payton into second place behind Jerry Rice on the NFL’s all-time yardage list, He was the first Eagles player to tally 1,000 kickoff return yards in three different seasons. He is also the NFL’s all-time leader in postseason kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage.
Megan O’Leary, a senior at Baton Rouge Episcopal High School, is an all-state athlete in basketball, volleyball and softball. She led her volleyball team to a state title and played a vital role in the success of her basketball and softball teams. Her achievements on and off the playing field assisted her in being selected the 2002 Wendy’s National Heisman Award winner.