Sports column: Vicksburg native Rivers has plan for a new award

Published 7:55 am Sunday, July 17, 2022

It’s funny, in this business, how stories can cluster together. Sometimes it’s planned, like when you examine several different angles to a big topic. Other times, you get to talking to people about a story and several unrelated ones spill out of it as various things are mentioned.

Lately, I’ve found myself in a cycle of the latter.

Over the past month in this column I’ve written about several of the awards given to Warren County’s high school athletes, and even some of the ones The Vicksburg Post has received.

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So what’s one more?

Vicksburg High alum Johnny Rivers owns a company called Sports X that’s based in El Paso, Texas, where he played football for UTEP.

The company specializes in producing events like flag football, basketball and 7-on-7 tournaments, and has an arm that makes its own custom trophies as well. Rivers is also working on bringing a new sports-themed entertainment venue to Vicksburg.

With an eye for production and a love for his hometown, Rivers came up with an idea — why not have an athlete of the year award for Vicksburg’s high school athletes?

Vicksburg, Warren Central, Porter’s Chapel Academy and St. Aloysius all present their own male and female athlete of the year awards, and Rivers’ award would pick the best male and female athlete from among them.

It would be a community effort. To make an informed decision and minimize the politics such an award could generate, Rivers wants to form a committee that follows the local sports scene all year, nominates candidates and picks the winner.

The award would be presented at a banquet at the end of the school year. The award and banquet would be funded privately, through various fundraisers and memorabilia raffles.

“We’re trying to bring things like that so they don’t fall through the cracks,” Rivers said. “The way I look at it from a distance is it gives an incentive for them to keep their nose clean and say this is something I want to earn.”

Hard to argue with that. Anything that offers a goal to work toward is worth a try. This sounds like one that, with a bit of involvement, could gain some traction.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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