Head coach Suzanne Yoculan, gymnast Courtney Kupets and the entire 2006 UGA gymnastics team are up for awards. In fact, Yoculan will receive an award as Coach of the Year.
This black-tie event will recognize 11 award recipients who distinguished themselves from all six Atlanta professional sports teams, 14 universities, 12 junior colleges and more than 250 public and private high schools for excellence in athletic achievement in 2006. Award categories include Athlete of the Year, High School Scholar Athlete of the Year, Sports Person of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Furman Bisher Award for Sports Media Excellence.
In conjunction with the awards ceremony, a premier silent auction consisting of more than 70 sports memorabilia items, trips, ticket packages and other items will be open to the public. Fans can bid on items online here from now through Feb. 16.
The event is sold out for the second straight year. More than 400 attendees representing metro Atlanta's professional teams, universities, amateur sports associations and high schools will be on hand as the winners are announced.
"This is the one night of the year when the entire city can come together to celebrate the people and teams that make sports in Atlanta so exceptional," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Sports Council president.
In conjunction with partner Applebee's restaurants, the nomination campaign was open to the public and promoted at all of the 36 Atlanta-area Applebee's locations from Oct. 29 to Dec. 10. Winners were determined by a vote of the Atlanta Sports Awards Voting Academy, whose members consist of local sports media, athletic administrators and corporate leaders.
"Ever since we were founded in Atlanta 26 years ago, local community involvement has been very important to Applebee's," said Gary Cockerill, Applebee's director of marketing. "These awards are about great achievement, but they're also about tremendous neighborhood spirit."
Finalists for this year's Atlanta Sports Awards include:
Professional Athlete of the Year
Marian Hossa - Atlanta Thrashers
Joe Johnson - Atlanta Hawks
Brian McCann - Atlanta Braves
Collegiate Athlete of the Year
Tasha Humphrey - University of Georgia (women's basketball)
Calvin Johnson - Georgia Tech (football)
Courtney Kupets - University of Georgia (gymnastics)
Amateur Athlete of the Year
Leslie Gaston - women's soccer
Regina Jaquess - water skiing
Zakiya Randall - golf
High School Athlete of the Year
Eric Berry - Creekside High School (football)
Javaris Crittenton - Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (basketball)
Maya Moore - Collins Hill High School (basketball)
Team of the Year
Peachtree Ridge High School Football
Roswell High School Football
University of Georgia Gymnastics
Sports Person of the Year Keith Brooking - Atlanta Falcons
Tim Hudson - Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz - Atlanta Braves
Coach of the Year (winner)
Suzanne Yoculan - University of Georgia
Lifetime Achievement Award (winner)
Vince Dooley - University of Georgia
Last year's winners included the Atlanta Braves (team of the year), Andruw Jones (pro athlete of the year - Atlanta Braves), D.J. Shockley (collegiate athlete of the year - University of Georgia), Amanda Weir (amateur athlete of the year - swimming), Louis Williams (high school athlete of the year - South Gwinnett High, basketball), Micah Weiss (male scholar athlete of the year - Grady High, soccer), Sonica Li (female scholar athlete of the year Chattahoochee High - swimming), Bobby Cox (coach of the year - Atlanta Braves), Warrick Dunn (sports person of the year - Atlanta Falcons), Wes Durham (Furman Bisher Award - Georgia Tech and Atlanta Falcons), and Hank Aaron (lifetime achievement - Atlanta Braves).
The Atlanta Sports Council promotes the value of sports growth in Atlanta and Georgia by acting as an authority on the economic impact, visibility and quality of life issues associated with sports. Its mission is to lead, organize and support sports development with the goal of building Atlanta's reputation as the Sports Capital of the World. For more information, please visit www.AtlantaSportsCouncil.com.