MCGILL: HERDSPYs to Celebrate Memorable Year in Athletics
The Word on the Herd -- April 18, 2018
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Voting for the 2018 HERDSPYs awards is open, and fans of Marshall athletics can help pick a winner for categories such as Football Play of the Year, Basketball Play of the Year, Olympic Sports Play of the Year and Moment of the Year.
Good luck in casting those ballots, folks. Thundering Herd sports had a banner season, and settling on a winner for each of those categories is no easy task. This has been a special year in Marshall athletics history, and it is even more special because of the role fans play in the athletic department’s successes. That is what makes the HERDSPYs a unique event, too, as fans are invited to participate in the voting for individual awards and then join us at the event – the 40th annual Big Green dinner – inside the Cam Henderson Center on Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m.
Individual tickets are $80, reserved seat tickets are $250 and table sponsors are available for $2,000. Reserved seat ticket holders and table sponsors are invited to a private pre-reception featuring Marshall student-athletes. Beer and wine will be provided. Deadline to purchase tickets is this Friday, April 20, at 3 p.m.
So, please, you’ve been there every step of the way during the 2017-18 sports calendar. Call the Big Green offices at 304-696-4661, purchase a seat and come applaud our student-athletes during a night that is being touted as “A Year for the Record Books.”
That’s for sure. Let’s start with the featured guests for the dinner: Marshall’s Conference USA champion and NCAA tournament participant men’s basketball program. Dan D’Antoni’s Herd hoops team won 25 games, captured its first C-USA championship, ended a 31-year NCAA tournament drought and became the 28th No. 13 seed in March Madness history to knock off a No. 4 seed in the Round of 64. That was the program’s first NCAA tournament victory.
Naturally, the men’s basketball team will be a significant part of the night. Basketball Play of the Year includes three entries involving Jon Elmore – his shot-clock beating 3 in the C-USA championship game; his lob to Rondale Watson in the NCAA tournament; and his 30-foot 3-pointer that shocked the Shockers. C.J. Burks and Ajdin Penava will provide competition for the award, which can be voted on by going to https://www.survkeymonkey/r/RYB9MS2
Fans control the fate of awards like that, but there will be more hardware handed out next Friday night: HERDSPY Award for Perseverance; HERDSPY Award for Dedication to Excellence; and the HERDSPY Chad Pennington Leadership Award. Last year’s winners for those categories were women’s basketball player Talequia Hamilton (perseverance), the swimming and diving team (dedication to excellence) and volleyball’s Ally Kiekover (leadership).
A fourth award – the HERDSPY for Courage & Commitment – was won by men’s basketball player Stevie Browning a year ago. This year’s winner has been decided, and will go to Larry Aaron, a Marshall football player who died Feb. 22 from health complications after receiving a gunshot wound in January. Aaron had completed his redshirt freshman football season at Marshall in 2017, developing into one of the team’s best defensive tackles.
Aaron’s father, also named Larry, announced on the social media website Facebook that he had received a call about the award and plans to attend the dinner, along with his wife, Melissa.
“Got a call from The Big Green Scholarship Foundation at Marshall,” the post reads, “They invited myself and Melissa to attend and (accept) an award for our son.”
The post also stated the Aaron family is “truly proud and humbled” by the Big Green’s gesture.
The ESPYs-style event – ESPY stands for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award – is presented by the Francis Charitable Foundation. Other sponsors include Heiner’s and Marshall Sports Medicine Institute.
It is certain to be a memorable evening in celebration of a magical year. Come join us.