VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Nominations are open for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Student-Athlete Achievement Awards. There are six weeks left to nominate a student-athlete for the special recognition.
“It’s a statewide initiative. This is not just specific to Hampton Roads and the surrounding region. This is a statewide initiative that the Hall of Fame Foundation runs. We’re looking for juniors and seniors that attend Virginia High Schools that excel academically, athletically, and in their communities. There are some eligibility requirements. The juniors and seniors must have a minimum 3.0-grade point average. They must participate in at least one VHSL or VISAA sanctioned sport. Then there has to be some community service activity that they have as well,” said Will Driscoll, Executive Director of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Driscoll says anyone can nominate a student-athlete, including the student-athletes themselves. In order to be considered, you must fill out the nomination form, have at least one letter of recommendation, and the student-athlete must write an essay.
“This is actually the first year that we’ve done that. We want to hear from the student-athlete about their needs, about their wants for this potential scholarship, and also, what sports has done for them as far as their personal development throughout their high school career. We’re really trying to paint the picture of the entire, well-rounded individual through sports and academics,” said Driscoll.
Over the last 17 years, the Student-Athlete Achievement Awards have grown from a recognition ceremony to a scholarship awards ceremony. Driscoll said the scholarship component came into play four years ago.
“For the first three years of the scholarship awards, we were awarding four $1,000 scholarships. So, we would have 16 finalists, and then the four winners, our student-athletes of the year, would receive $1,000 scholarship awards. Well, last year during the pandemic, we made a really big push, because even though we couldn’t focus on the main events we normally do, like our induction and other events that we carry out on an annual basis, we wanted to make sure that the student-athletes were still taken care of. So, we had a really good response from donors, and from just one-time supporters, to really help us build up that scholarship fund, and last year we actually awarded $12,000 total in scholarships. The four student-athletes of the year each received a $1,500 scholarship award, and then the other 12 finalists still walked away with $500 scholarships. This year it looks like we’re going to be able to match that again,” said Driscoll.
This event is a favorite of Driscoll, who says the student-athletes who are selected always give him hope for the future.
“We have 16, 17, 18-year-olds whose aspirations are really to change the world whether that’s through politics, whether that’s through medicine, whether that’s through science, and it’s refreshing to see the very adult outlook that a lot of these kids already have, and that’s a testament to their parents. That’s a testament to their schools. That’s a testament to their coaches,” said Driscoll.
Driscoll emphasizes the importance of keeping these scholarship awards moving forward.
“We celebrate history. We celebrate excellence across all sports in Virginia, or people with connections to Virginia. You know, for all the David Wrights and the Michael Cuddyers, we’re in tune to that. We know what’s going on with that, but what I really enjoy about the Student-Athlete Achievement Awards is we bring it back down to the support for student-athletes. The way I look at it is, from a 30,000-foot level, if we’re not supporting our student-athletes, and we’re not making sure that they’re active in sports, and they’re doing well in school, well then years from now there might not be a Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, because we won’t have people to induct. So, I look at the Student-Athlete Achievement Awards as really the best of tomorrow.”
Remember, there is a time crunch for nominating a student-athlete. All application materials must be in to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame by the October 22 deadline.
For a full list of eligibility requirements, click here.
** Editor’s Note: Driscoll is the husband of WAVY’s Katie Collett.