What happens when a tradition and a milestone merge?
You get The Advocate’s 30th Star of Stars/Athlete of the Year banquet. The annual event, set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the LHSAA office, honors the area’s top high school athletes in 15 sports.
Its roots go back to 1986, when Broadmoor High’s Bucky Richardson, who went on to play quarterback at Texas A&M, won the first Athlete of the Year award presented by The State-Times.
The event has evolved through the years to encompass more sports and, eventually dual winners. From 1986-94, the State-Times, and later The Advocate staff, selected just one overall Athlete of the Year winner. The first year boys and girls winners were honored was 1995.
In addition to honoring the overall Athlete of the Year winners, The Advocate also recognizes a Star of Stars in each sport.
The 2015 ceremony is unique because both 2014 Athlete of the Year winners — St. Amant’s Kara Gremillion and West Feliciana’s Jazz Ferguson — return again as finalists.
University High’s Destiny Ephrom and Zachary High’s Janie O’Connor are the other girls finalists. Colin Bone of Catholic High and Nick Brossette of University are the other boys finalists.
Over the years, athletes from 23 different schools have claimed Athlete of the Year honors.
The list of past winners includes five-time volleyball Olympian and two-time silver medalist Danielle Scott-Arruda of Woodlawn High (1990), two-time basketball gold medalist and five-five WNBA all-star Seimone Augustus of Capitol (2002).
Three different sets of siblings have won the award, starting with brothers Trey (1994) and Todd (1995) McClure, who both went on to star in different sports at LSU.
Todd McClure went on to play 13 years with the Atlanta Falcons and is one of numerous winners who went on to play in the NFL. Dutchtown’s Landon Collins (2012) was recently drafted by the New York Giants.
Brother and sister Ashley (1997) and Ryan Lewis (2002) also won the top awards for Central High. Sisters Shelly (1998) and Kate Ripple (2000, 2001) won the girls award for Parkview Baptist. Kate Ripple Cramer is the lone two-time Athlete of the Year winner.
In 2010, St. Michael the Archangel was the only school to sweep the awards when Jeremy Meyers and KK Babin shared the top honors.