Keith Maloof, head football coach at Norcross High School accepts the Coach of the Year award during Wednesday’s Atlanta Sports Awards at the Fox Theatre. (Staff Intern: Robin Reuter)
ATLANTA — She may be playing for North Carolina, but Diamond DeShields still keeps bringing in honors for Norcross.
And consistently creative.
The standout girls basketball player who led the Blue Devils to four straight state Class AAAAAA state championships was giving the Atlanta Sports Council’s high school athlete of the year for 2013, an honor bestowed for her career and final season at Norcross which ended with her being named the high school athlete of the year. Among the athletes DeShield beat out, was fellow Blue Devil Lorenzo Carter, a Georgia football signee and leader of the back-to-back state title football teams.
DeShields missed Wednesday’s event playing in the ACC women’s basketball tournament for the Tar Heels. But only in person.
DeShields’ mother, Tisha, accepted the award for Diamond, but quickly picked up her phone, called her daughter and put her on speaker phone. The crowd welcomed the call with a good laugh.
“It was her idea,” Tisha DeShields said of the phone call on stage. “She’s good.”
Diamond DeShields, among her thanks, included her former coaches, teammates, parents and God. But she knew her award also meant an award lost for Carter.
“I want to give a special shout-out to my Norcross family,” Diamond DeShields said over the phone.
It didn’t stop there for Norcross.
DeShields was just one Norcross representative honored by the Atlanta Sports Council on Wednesday night at the Fox Theatre.
Keith Maloof, the long-time head coach of the Norcross football team was honored as the coach of the year, topping the Atlanta Braves Fredi Gonzalez and Jack Bauerle the head swim at dive coach at the the University of Georgia.
Maloof got a raucous applause from his Norcross table and spent his speech thanking everyone involved in his 15 years coaching the Blue Devils.
“When you have great players like Lorenzo Carter, it’s really easy as a coach,” Maloof said. “This award is not mine. It goes to the coaches and the kids and the community.”
Maloof also thanked his wife, Lisa, for her support of him and Norcross over his career.
“She has not missed one event,” he said. “Both when our kids were growing up and when we didn’t have kids. Because of her these things happen.”
The Maloof honor got the night started for the Blue Devils. DeShields went next following awards to Atlanta Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel for professional athlete of the year and Aaron Murray for college athlete of the year. Even the highlight video which introduced the award was filled with blue and white and covered with Norcross. For Carter, the idea of two Blue Devils as the finalist was just one of the amazing things happening at his school.
“I feel like we are in the golden age at Norcross right now,” Carter said. “I am just glad to be apart of it.”
Carter took advantage. He met Atlanta Hawks player Al Horford and former Georgia head coach Vince Dooley, among others at the event.
“I am just a high schooler,” he said. It’s eye-opening to think that I am on their level.”
The only award Norcross was nominated for that it didn’t scoop up was the team of the year award, given to the Atlanta Dream. The Dream reached the WNBA finals a season ago, losing to Maya Moore’s Minnesota Lynx.
The community spirit award went to Falcons kicker Matt Bryant.
Former Atlanta Falcon Tommy Nobis was given the sports council’s lifetime achievement award in the events nightcap. Nobis, the first player drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and only player to wear No. 60, attended five Pro Bowls and was named rookie of the year in 1966. The award was for Nobis’ work off the field with his foundation, Nobis Works, which helps people with disabilities find and maintain employment.
He was introduced by another former player, Jeff Van Note.
“There is no one who has given more back to Atlanta than Tommy Nobis,” said Van Note, a Falcons season ticker holder. “He is by far the greatest Falcons football player ever.”
Nobis walked to the stage to a standing ovation and with a highlight video running the background.
“The greatness of sports, what athletics and football can do for people, community, individuals and groups is just amazing,” Nobis said. “I am really very grateful. What we need to do is look at what we are doing and what we are supporting with our time.”