ICYMI: Deer Park Wins Two Cincinnati Sports Awards


CINCINNATI.COM: A.J. Green to HS athletes: 'If you don’t come in with a humble mindset, you get lost in it.'

On Monday night, Cincinnati.com hosted the third annual Cincinnati.com Sports Awards presented by TriHeath. Local sports personality Rocky Boiman hosted the event which featured Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green as the speaker.

The OHSAA Division III State Champion Deer Park boys basketball team was nominated for a pair of awards, including Team of the Year and Boys Basketball Player of the Year (Senior Damani McEntire). Both nominations turned into hardware at the ceremony, as each were selected winners of their respective categories.

The two victories were each recognized in an article on Cincinnati.com recapping the event. You can read the full article HERE.

Cincinnati.com recapping the event01 Cincinnati.com recapping the event02
Cincinnati.com recapping the event03

A.J. Green to HS athletes: 'If you don’t come in with a humble mindset, you get lost in it.'

By Adam Turer
April 23, 2018

Before A.J. Green became a superstar receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, back before he dominated Southeastern Conference defenses catching passes for the University of Georgia, he was a three-sport star at Summerville High School in South Carolina.

Fall was for football, winter was basketball season, and spring meant track and field. His well-rounded background gives Green an appreciation for all high school student-athletes. It was that appreciation that was celebrated on Monday night at Music Hall, where Green was the featured speaker at the third annual Cincinnati.com Sports Awards presented by TriHealth, hosted by Rocky Boiman.

“In eighth grade, I told my parents I wanted to play organized sports. It took off from there. My first love was basketball. I love football, I love being physical,” said Green in a Q&A with Boiman. “I think for one, (playing high school sports is important) to get you out of your comfort zone. Being a professional athlete, you’re put in uncomfortable situations and you have to handle those. Playing different sports helps prepare you for those situations. I wish I’d played more sports, like baseball or soccer.”

At the ceremony, the top players in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky were honored for their performances this past fall and winter. Spring athletes will be recognized later this summer. Premier awards were given out for the boys and girls athlete of the year on both sides of the river, the team of the year, play of the year, and coaches of the year.

Nearly all of the students in attendance were multi-sport athletes. Those players benefit from both a physical and team-building aspect.

“It’s really good at keeping me in shape. Even when I’m not in soccer season, I’m in basketball season,” said Loveland’s Colleen Swift, a multi-sport star who took home the Ms. Greater Cincinnati award as the top female athlete. “I had at least three teammates from basketball at every soccer game this season. That was really cool.”

Boiman added: “A.J. Green said it best. You’re more of a well-rounded sports player, you’re more of a well-rounded human being. Playing multiple sports keeps you balanced and you have so many more experiences and meet so many more people.

"How does anyone know when they’re a freshman in high school what their ticket is, what their best sport is? I didn’t know. It took playing a few things, so I think every athlete should do themselves a favor and try out as many things as they can.”

The best night in Cincinnati high school sports featured volleyball supporting basketball supporting hockey supporting wrestling supporting tennis. The camaraderie amongst the players, coaches, and families present illustrated how and why high school sports play such a vital role in the Greater Cincinnati community.

“It is amazing to come here and see the best athletes in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky,” said Princeton wrestling coach Ty Robbins, a coach of the year nominee who is retiring after 30 years of coaching, 18 with the Vikings. “You get to see some great and amazing athletes year in and year out. Personally, that’s one thing I’m going to miss. You put 30 years in and you work really hard and you do it for the love of the sport and the love of the kids and this is just an added bonus.”

Deer Park’s state championship boys basketball team claimed more hardware, winning Team of the Year. Damani McEntire was named Cincinnati boys basketball player of the year. This was the kind of year that can change an entire school’s culture.

“We won a state championship in basketball and now I want to bring one home for football,” said Joseph Hocker, who excels in both sports for the Wildcats. “We’re all here for each other. The community comes in, it’s one big family. I see more spirit from the students, a lot of people happy, hanging out. Now we’re going to baseball and softball games supporting them the way they supported us.”

The Greater Cincinnati sports community came out in full force to celebrate. Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart delivered a video message. FC Cincinnati technical director Luke Sassano presented the soccer player of the year awards. Cincinnati Cyclones director of public relations and broadcasting Everett Fitzhugh presented the field hockey and ice hockey awards.

Administrators were also recognized, as Hughes High School’s Jolinda Miller took home the Athletic Director of the Year award. Putting student-athletes first as always, Miller brought two Big Red students up on stage with her to accept the award.

There were more special awards given out, recognizing dedication and contributions beyond the playing surface. Miranda Sanderfer earned the Heart & Hustle award. The Norwood High School goalkeeper inspires her teammates by playing while living with cystic fibrosis.

Jenna Doumont was bestowed with the I AM SPORT award for her work in the community. The Villa Madonna golfer helps instill passion in the next generation of student-athletes through her work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Anderson gymnast Emily Lewis earned the Courage Award, for overcoming a life-threatening illness to return to the mat for her senior season.

Every award winner made sure to thank his or her parents, coaches and teammates upon accepting the trophy.

It was a most memorable night for the Colonels of Covington Catholic and Knights of Summit Country Day.

CovCath Quarterback A.J. Mayer earned football player of the year and basketball coach Scott Ruthsatz earned boys coach of the year.

Summit Country Day earned players of the year in girls soccer (Ravin Alexander), boys soccer (Harrison Schertzinger), and girls basketball (Alea Harris).

The night began with athletes and their families walking the red carpet and posing for pictures at historic Music Hall.

“What a fantastic evening that Cincinnati.com put on, all these athletes on the red carpet, all looking good,” said Boiman. “You can tell they all feel special.”

Green shared his personal story and gave advice to the premier student-athletes in attendance. He talked about how he and his high school basketball teammates still keep in touch, and how their entire lives were molded by their late coach Louis Mulkey. Like the award winners, Green thanked his parents and coaches for instilling in him the character that it takes to succeed not just in sports, but in life.

“I think playing high school sports builds the foundation of your character. It shows you structure in life where you have to be on time and communicate with people you’re not comfortable with. You’re all fighting for one common goal, and that’s to win. You’re one team. It gives you that foundation of being able to work with others,” said Green. “If you don’t come in with a humble mindset, you get lost in it. My first goal is to be a great person. Second is to be one of the best. Having my mom and dad be my biggest supporters, they gave me a foundation that I’m no better than anybody else and to treat people the way I’d want to be treated.

"For me, it’s God, family, and football. I’m a dad first, a husband first, a God’s man first. After that, I’m a football player.”

To read the story and see the photo gallery, click here.