ESPPA awards created to recognize athletic success

Because of all the attention varsity sports get, it can be hard for athletes at the freshman, sophomore, and junior varsity levels to receive as much attention as they deserve. Hoping to change that, the athletic department has started a new initiative this year: the Exceptional Stevenson Patriot Pride Award (ESPPA).

 Modeled in name and purpose after ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly awards (ESPYs), the awards are given out three times a year: once each at the Fall, Winter, and Spring Sports Awards Nights.

 “We wanted a way to highlight the performance of not just those at the varsity levels, but also those performing exceptionally at lower levels as well,” Trish Betthauser, Director of Athletics, said.

Nominations, which opened up on Oct. 1, are submitted through a Google Form found on the Athletic Department’s website. Anyone can nominate someone for an award, but must provide an explanation as to why they chose to nominate that person. Only the final winner for each award will be announced, not any of the other nominations.    

Athletes can be nominated in multiple categories, including “Best Moment in Sports Award,” “Best Varsity Game Performance Award” and “Breakthrough Under-Level Athlete Award,” among multiple others. Non-athletes can also be nominated for awards such as “Outstanding Manager Award,” and “Super Fan Award.”

“The most important part of the nomination process is the explanation of why the person was nominated,” Chad Dauphin, Assistant Athletic Director, said. “That’s where we understand what really makes the nominee deserving of an award.”

There’s been an issue thus far with some people simply submitting names on the Google Form for nominees, but providing no justification for the nomination, Dauphin said.

Matthew Hodge, Assistant Director of Athletics, will work with Dauphin and Betthauser to narrow down the best 5-10 nominations for each category. The three will then present the nominations to the Patriot Pride club on Nov. 16, the night before Fall Sports Awards Night. The process will be repeated twice more, once each for the Winter and Spring Sports Nights, Betthauser said.

The Patriot Pride club will also be presenting the awards at each of the sports awards nights. The club, which meets during activity periods, is led primarily by athletes who attended the North Suburban Leadership Conference, but membership is open to anyone, Dauphin said.