Community can be proud of athletes who inspire

The front page — or “A1,” as we call it inside the CDT — is our showcase, the place where we highlight the day’s biggest news, the area’s biggest events, the community’s biggest kudos or concerns. Our aim for A1: Filling it with must-read content for readers who care about our community, our state, our world.

Today, though, there’s another page of the paper that you should be sure to turn to: B9. There you’ll find the names of 40 of our area’s brightest athletes.

The Centre Daily Times selected these 40 as semifinalists in our Inspiring Athletes Awards, a new event we started to showcase our local sports talent. These kids work hard, play hard and are just good community citizens.

Since I took over the CDT a year ago, being a good community citizen has become an increasing focus for the paper. A newspaper should inform our readers and engage our citizenry in local affairs, but it also should tout the area’s best and brightest. Consider the Inspiring Athletes Awards phase one of the CDT stepping up to help honor, and even unite through common purpose, the people who live and work in Centre County.

So how did we pick these kids? Over the past few months, we asked our readers, parents, coaches, athletic directors, principals and more to nominate kids for this honor. We also looked at the students we’ve profiled in the past year in our Athlete of the Week features on Mondays in the sports section. We asked for nominees from Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College high schools as well as Centre County Christian Academy, Grace Prep and St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.

From there, we looked at how the semifinalists — 20 girls and 20 boys — performed on the field and off. We vetted our lists past principals and athletic directors, looking for teens who we felt had the right mix of athletic prowess, teamwork and sportsmanship. CDT editors debated and discussed who would make the cut, and the final list includes students of all ages, not just seniors ready to head off to college.

We’ll honor all of the 40 semifinalists and name 20 finalists — 10 boys and 10 girls — and two winners at our awards presentation on Sunday, May 17, at the auditorium at Mount Nittany Medical Center. You are welcome to attend. One of my favorite parts of living in State College is how centered the community is in celebrating others. Attendance is free, but we do ask that you register in advance by going to www.centredaily.com/inspiringathletes.

Those who attend will get a treat: Jeff Miles, Bald Eagle Area School District superintendent, is our guest speaker. I recently had lunch with Miles, and a more accomplished athlete and humble man would be hard to find. I’m looking forward to hearing his inspiring words.

We’ll also have some entertainment provided by hula-hoop performer Branda Smeltzer, a former high school athlete who grew up in Centre County; swag bags for our guests of honor; some refreshments; and plaques to honor our two winners — one girl and one boy.

If you can’t join us, you can read all about these accomplished athletes in a special section that will be published Sunday, May 24. It will also feature ads from our sponsors, who I’d like to thank for helping us make this event a success for the athletes, their families and their schools. Our presenting sponsor is Millheim Small Engine; our event sponsor is Mount Nittany Medical Center, and other sponsors include Allied Milk Products, Nittany Gymnastics Academy, Pizza Mia and WOWY 97.1.

That’s wonderful support for an event to support some great students.

More community involvement

Last night, I attended Race Day Soiree, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that the CDT is proud to sponsor. Today, the CDT is a sponsor of the Habitat for Humanity House Walk. While these events are over, it’s certainly not too late to support both organizations’ efforts. Other upcoming events the CDT is sponsoring: The Penn State Master Gardener Garden Show and Sale on May 16 and Centre Sings on June 6. Hope to see you there!