The Hampton Roads Sports Commission (HRSC), an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, hosted its inaugural Celebration of College Football Awards Dinner on January 31 at the Sheraton Waterside Norfolk. The event, attended by 200 people, recognized and celebrated the local football programs of the Apprentice School, Christopher Newport University, College of William and Mary, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University. During the dinner, the Hampton Roads Sports Commission Player of the Year Awards were presented to the top offensive and defensive players within the region.
Ronnie Cameron, a Defensive Tackle from Old Dominion University, was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year. He graduated from ODU with an MBA in December and could not attend the event because he was preparing for a college All-Star Game. ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder accepted the award on Cameron’s behalf. Wilder said, “What’s so impressive about Ronnie Cameron is that we have a philosophy in our program called Aim High about being a great person, a great student and a great player. He exemplifies that.”
Jonathan Grimes, a Running Back from the College of William & Mary, was named the Offensive Player of the Year. College of William & Mary Head Coach Jimmye Laycock accepted the Offensive Player of the Year award on behalf of Jonathan Grimes who graduated in December and is currently conditioning for the NFL combine. Laycock said, “Jonathan is off the charts as a player, but an even better young man. He graduated in 3 ½ years and is the most decorated football player in the history of William & Mary, which is quite an honor. But then when you meet and talk to him, you’re even more impressed.”
Each football program nominated a student athlete for each category. A selection committee, consisting of local sports experts familiar with the school football programs, selected the top offensive and defensive players from the 12 nominees.
The event’s keynote speaker Bobby Ross shared personal experiences from his more than 30 years as a college and professional coach. He told the crowd, “Character is the most important quality in a person.” Ross explained that coaches distinguish between winners and losers, saying, “Winners are part of the answer. Losers are part of the problem.” “Winners can take the blame, winners persevere and are not afraid to fail,” Ross added. He told the players and attendees to set goals and “reach beyond what you think you can do.” While a coach, Ross said he expected a full commitment from his players and told them to “play from your heels to the top of your head.” You have to move people from a “contribution” state to a “commitment” state. He closed by saying, “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you handle it. It’s all about attitude.”
Thanks to event sponsors: Williams Mullen (Players of the Year); 94.1 FM ESPN, Old Dominion University and Huntington Ingalls Industries (Gold); Burton Lumber, City of Newport News, K&D Round’s Landscape Services and Monarch Bank (Silver).