Sports column: Hoping ‘Athlete of the Week’ starts a new tradition

Published 1:09 pm Sunday, September 11, 2022

I’m not sure when, exactly, the “Who’s Hot” feature became a part of The Vicksburg Post’s sports page. All I know is that it was some time in the mid-1990s, before cellphones were in every pocket or the internet had really become a thing.

In the nearly 30 years since, however, it has become a tradition. At least one generation of Vicksburg’s athletes, and perhaps two or three at this point, have grown up with it as a goal. Getting your picture and a blurb about your great game in the paper has been a highlight for some, and just another Wednesday for others.

To pull back the curtain a bit, there is no complex scientific formula for how we pick a Who’s Hot.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

Sometimes it’s a way to get in a newsworthy note, such as a college signing, that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Other times it’s a way to spotlight a secondary player in a big game, if the biggest star already has their picture in the paper. Still others, it’s five minutes before deadline and we need to fill the space with somebody — anybody — who did something good within the past few days. It depends on the day.

Who’s Hot has been a staple feature of our sports section for decades now, and will continue to be for decades to come. We are, however, hoping to enhance it a bit with another new feature.

This past week, we started our “Athlete of the Week” contest that is kind of like Who’s Hot on steroids and exactly what the clever title suggests. Each week, we will pick several nominees and conduct an online vote to allow our readers to select the winner.

Voting will begin Sunday evening and continue until midnight Tuesday of each week. Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for links to the voting and the announcement of nominees.

The winner will be recognized in Friday’s print edition and on our website.

Some of this will be an evolving process. Ideally, we’ll pick four nominees from among our local high schools, and from a mix of sports. Based on schedules or results, there might be weeks where one school has multiple nominees and another has none.

Our inaugural vote was a success, with nearly 1,100 votes registered for nominees DeCorey Knight of Vicksburg, Skylar Beard of Warren Central, Samantha Edwards of St. Al and John Wyatt Massey of Porter’s Chapel Academy .

Knight and Beard, amazingly, tied with 398 votes apiece and shared the honor — and perhaps a place in local sports history if this catches on.

Who’s Hot has become part of the fabric of local sports in Vicksburg. Maybe 30 years from now people will brag about the time they were the Athlete of the Week.

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.

email author More by Ernest