Gannett Ventures, part of Gannett Co., Inc., is pivoting its annual USA TODAY High School Sports Awards series, the largest high school athlete recognition program in the U.S., from live community events, into star-studded on-demand award shows that will broadcast online on Thursday, June 18.
The USA TODAY High School Sports Awards shows, which were originally planned throughout April, May and June, in 59 cities and towns across 28 states will now be streamed online, enabling each community to maintain their annual tradition of honoring student athletes for their hard work and dedication over the past academic year. The award shows will be hosted by national TV sports personalities and broadcasters Courtney Cronin, Jesse Palmer, Dr. Jerry Punch and Sage Steele, with customized streams for each community.
This year, professional and Olympic athletes have joined the program set to honor over 28,000 student athletes and will be presenting awards during the broadcast for each sport. Additionally, reigning Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will announce Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards and Bill Belichick, head coach of the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, will present Coach of the Year and Team of the Year. And, NBC News’ TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb will recognize some of this year’s Courage Award recipients, athletes who exhibit extraordinary strength and courage in daily life, both on and off the field.
Individual sports presenters include:
“As one of the most loved and anticipated events in our communities, we wanted to continue to provide our student athletes the opportunity to celebrate and be recognized for their outstanding athletic achievements,” said Jason Taylor, head of Gannett Ventures. “The young adults across America have lost out on many commemorative high school moments — from graduations to prom — and we are thrilled so many high profile athletes have signed on to be a part of the experience to give the student athletes the special recognition they deserve.”
“I commend the efforts of everyone coming together during these uncertain times to make this event very special for our high school student athletes across the country,” said Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a past presenter. “This year’s celebration is very different from the previous events but is one student athletes will never forget. I am honored to be a presenter to salute some of the very best talent our country has ever seen.”
The broadcast events, made possible by the many sponsors and partners across the communities, will conclude with a national senior sports salute and message, “Don’t Stop Now,” recognizing high school seniors whose spring sports seasons were canceled. The video will feature at least one student from each of the High School Sports Award communities, and in most markets, a list of seniors who missed their final games will display as rolling credits. Celebrities who are joining the celebration will use the #DontStopNow message as a national movement of inspiration and recognition.
The broadcast shows premiere at 6 p.m. local times on June 18. For a full list of individual community events, visit sportsawards.usatoday.com.