Taysom Hill vs Broncos

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill scrambles against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.

Whenever a team needs to call an audible, it never hurts to have an experienced quarterback in the game.

The Advocate certainly has one for its virtual 35th Star of Stars High School Sports Awards ceremony in Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints.

The former BYU star will serve as guest speaker for the Star of Stars online event, which will stream live at 7 p.m. May 25. The decision to livestream the event comes a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced The Advocate to cancel its planned in-person event, which Hill was scheduled to headline.

Why, then, is this year's event going virtual? Because it is important for The Advocate to honor the top high school athletes from the Baton Rouge area for their performances in 15 sanctioned sports, particularly during a year that required teams and coaches to navigate practice/competition during a pandemic. Details on how the Star of Stars event can be viewed will available closer to the event date.

“For 35 years, The Advocate’s Star of Stars Awards have honored our top athletes — both male and female — from across our region. Although this year’s celebration will be virtual, we promise it will still be a very special experience for everyone in attendance,” Publisher Judi Terzotis said. “Part of our mission at The Advocate is to shine a light on the positive stories in our community.

“We are proud to carry on this tradition with the help of Taysom Hill. His work ethic, passion and strong family values are a perfect alignment with our talented prep athletes.”

Hill continues a tradition of sorts. Drew Brees, who recently retired after a record-setting career with the Saints, was the Star of Stars guest speaker in 2019.

Just as notable is the list of the past winners of the Star of Stars Athlete of the Year awards. ESPN personality Marcus Spears (Southern Lab, 2001), five-time volleyball Olympian Danielle Scott (Woodlawn, 1990), WNBA star and three-time Olympian Seimone Augustus (Capitol, 2002), Atlanta Falcons lineman Todd McClure (Central, 1995), LSU football/baseball standout Chad Jones (Southern Lab, 2007) and rowing Olympian Meghan O’Leary (Episcopal, 2003) are among the notable winners.

The Advocate staff selects the Star of Stars recipients in each sport. Our staff invites area schools and fans to nominate their athletes, teams and coaches for the top awards — boys/girls Athlete of the Year, boys/girls Coach of the Year, Team of the Year.

Nominations are also accepted for two special awards added in 2019 — The Courage Award and The Spirit Award. The courage award is designed to honor a coach or athlete who has overcome significant physical or personal hardships. Persons who go above and beyond to support programs at a particular high school are ideal nominees for the spirit honor.

Links to submit a nomination for these awards are available at starofstars.net.

“For years now, I’ve been saying that Star of Stars is one of the best things our sports department does. We all know that the college stars and pro stars are going to get the spotlight,” executive sports editor Perryn Keys said. “This is so important because it shines a light on our best local athletes and gives them the recognition they deserve. Then, when they take the next step in their own great careers, we get to say we saw them before the rest of the world did.

“We all missed a lot last year, and Star of Stars was one of those big things. We’re back. Our people are going to put on a whale of a show.”

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com