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HAMMOCK: Honoring the best of the best in Gwinnett

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

There is never a shortage of awards for the star athlete.

The kid who rushes for 1,500 yards in football. The runner who wins the most races at state. The softball player with the gaudy offensive numbers.

Here in Gwinnett, the coaches of each sport pick a player of the year and we do the same at the Daily Post, but both awards are based entirely on athletic achievements. The coaches typically pick an all-academic team, although it's based mainly on school accomplishments.

The need for an all-encompassing award was filled two years ago when Gwinnett County Public Schools began its Outstanding Senior Athlete Awards Dinner, a celebration that became a reality thanks to Mike Emery, GCPS' director of athletics, student activities and community schools.

The 2010 event was a big success and it was duplicated last year, so I expect tonight's senior athlete banquet to be another special experience. It should be because of the award's prestige -- the winners are the best of Gwinnett's more than 12,000 high school athletes.

The neat part of the award is that the winners' strengths touch more than one aspect of their character. Athletic talent is great, but the GCPS honor also considers grades, extracurricular activities, public service, leadership and character. In short, it's the best boy and best girl athlete for every GCPS high school (check out Friday's Daily Post for the list of winners).

Only 37 seniors, two from each GCPS school and one from the Gwinnett Heat, will be recognized at this year's banquet. Each youngster has his or her own story and accomplishments. Some have cruised through and others have overcome their share of adversity.

But they all share this -- they're the best of the best among Gwinnett athletes.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.