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Honoring the athletes

The young and old — middle school and high school students — will convene at the Carl Morgan Convention Center for the Selma Sports Banquet on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The best student-athletes in Selma City Schools will be recognized for their on and off-the-field accomplishments. In a bit of a twist, the banquet is inclusive of all schools within the system. Another twist is the joining of spring and fall athletic banquets.

“We’re going to include middle school and high school as a result of all of our athletes’ hard work and effort,” said Selma High Athletic Director Patrick Evans. “In the past we’ve had fall and spring sports separate. We felt it was important to have all sports under one roof. “

Each sport will have awards for most valuable player, offensive player, defensive player and most improved. An academic award will also be bestowed to one male and one female student-athlete.

Selma basketball coach Woodie Jackson is especially pleased by the academic recognition.

“I think it’s very important. This is an extracurricular activity. You devote a lot of your time,” said Jackson. “In order to participate in athletics, you must go beyond the call of duty to participate. Athletes must have a higher grade.”

This banquet comes at the end of an athletic year than began with several new coaches, including Jackson and football coach Foster Davis. Jackson replaced former Selma coach Willie Maxey and Davis — an assistant under Maxey — took over the football reigns from former coach Brian Montgomery.

“For [the athletes], it’s a night that their hard work has been recognized, just showing them how much we appreciate what they have done for us,” said Evans. “We didn’t win any championships, but we have made big strides this year for our future.

“We won a battle because we’ve had adversity with all the changes we’ve made. Every sport just about had a new coach. Kids had to really focus and buy in.”

Jackson sees the banquet as an opportunity to not only reward hard work, but to also give the younger athletes a goal to strive for.

“That could be a motivational point for the young kids,” said Jackson. “We already know that academics are one, but definitely athletics are the vehicle to get you from point a to point b.

“The two go hand in hand. Sports keeps a lot of kids in school that wouldn’t be there.”

Due to resources and facility size, the banquet is open only to participating athletes, their parents and invited guests.