LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos quarterback and future Hall of Famer, will be the keynote speaker for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All Arkansas Preps awards banquet, sponsored by St. Vincent.
Manning will give the new All Arkansas Preps a huge jump-start to this inaugural banquet when he presents awards to the top outstanding high school athletes in the state on Saturday, June 1 at the Wally Allen Ballroom in the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Manning will also be the banquet's featured speaker and will answer questions from the crowd, which will include 300 student athletes and their parents. Keith Jackson, a native Arkansan and former NFL star, will emcee the event.
All Arkansas Preps celebrates high school athletes from across the state and their accomplishments in eight different sports. An editorial committee from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette picks first, second and sophomore male teams in football, basketball, baseball and soccer, and female teams in basketball, softball and soccer.
Male/female teams in golf, tennis and track are chosen through Overall and Meet of Champs statewide competition. The committee polls coaches and media members from across the state for team recommendations, taking into account individual statistics and team success from the previous season.
"The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a long history of honoring athletes in our home state, but this takes it to a new level. I am personally excited about our role in this great new event that will recognize the best high school athletes," said Wally Hall, Assistant Managing Editor/Sports for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
St. Vincent President and CEO Peter D. Banko said All Arkansas Preps is a great fit for St. Vincent.
"If you looked at our four core values, at St. Vincent, you would notice our core value of "excellence" meaning preeminent performance, becoming the benchmark, putting forth our personal and professional best. We are going to recognize excellence in young men and women that have distinguished themselves with preeminent performance, becoming the benchmark, and putting forth their best during their high school careers," Banko said.
More than a thousand people will attend the event, including student athletes, coaches, parents and sponsors. Manning will present the Outstanding Player Award in each sport (male and female) as well as the Overall Male Athlete, Overall Female Athlete and Coach of the Year.
Other awards will be given to honor special athletes that have made an impact on and off the field. St. Vincent will present an award to a student athlete who has overcome a health challenge to excel in one of the eight sports. Banko will present the award. The P.A.R.K Education Award will recognize one athlete who has made great achievements on the field and in the classroom. The Hussman Award will be presented to an athlete who has excelled off the field in his/her community. All those honored will be chosen by committee from entries submitted by high school coaches and the general public.
Student athletes that make up each sports teams (first, second and sophomore) will receive free admission into the event.
"When we first started planning this event, the one name that keep coming up was: Peyton Manning," said Tabitha Cunningham, promotions manager at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "Not only for his accomplishments on the field, but for his success off the field as well. We wanted our keynote speaker to be a great example for these high school athletes and someone who exhibits character and integrity on and off the field. Peyton does just that and we consider it a great honor he accepted our invitation to attend this event and we look forward to having him in Little Rock. We are also thankful for our sponsors for joining us to make this event a great experience for everyone."
The All Arkansas Preps event is also sponsored by Metropolitan Bank, Academy Sports and Arkansas Select Buick GMC Dealers.
Depending on demand and availability, general admission tickets could become available after April 15. Visit our website for more details on ticket sales after April 15.