Annual Nice Sports People Awards

It looks like you’ve got your Christmas trees all decorated, the holiday lights are shining and gift shopping is on its way to completion.

That means it must be time for another annual holiday tradition: the Bob Hogue/MidWeek Nice People Awards. This is the time of year when I recognize the people who have made my year such a joy. Here’s my list, and I’m checking it twice:

College Football Awards

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Manti Te'o with trophies for being named National Defensive Player of the Year and College Player of the Year last Thursday. AP photo

Manti Te’o and family – A Nice People Award may not rank up there with all the other national awards our favorite Notre Dame linebacker has garnered this year, but one thing’s for certain, Manti has turned more local football fans into Fighting Irish fans than anybody since Knute Rockne – or at least Reggie Ho. Congratulations to the entire Te’o family, and good luck in the BCS Championship game!

Marcus Mariota – Only an errant field goal try kept this former Saint Louis quarterback from facing off against Manti in the title game, but it was still quite a year for the Oregon Ducks redshirt freshman quarterback. Featured on a MidWeek cover earlier this year, he and the 11-1 Ducks are headed to a BCS bowl game in Arizona. You can expect Marcus to be in the Heisman hunt for the next few seasons.

Shane Victorino – I got to see Shane’s commitment to his fans up close and personal during his brief stint with the Dodgers this past summer. I’m excited to see the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s new big contract and that he’ll soon be swinging from both sides of the plate in Boston’s fabled Fenway Park.

Eric Bovaird – Move over, Merv Lopes! The second-year head coach of the Chaminade men’s basketball team rocked the basketball nation by leading the “Giant Killers” over nationally ranked Texas in the first round of the Maui Invitational this year. His up-tempo style of play is a big hit with players and fans.

Susannah Walmsley – HPU women’s basket-ball’s scoring sensation hit for a record 39 points in the PacWest opener. Walmsey is a native Australian who has made a big impact on campus and in the community. She also leads the Sea Warriors Student Athlete Advisory Committee and is vice chairwoman of the PacWest SAAC Executive Board.

Wil Navalta – The BYU-Hawaii women’s volleyball coach has told close friends that his long and brilliant career is finally coming to an end after this year’s run to the national championships. The Seasider head coach has made an incredible impact on his sport while winning numerous PacWest, NAIA and NCAA Division II titles.

Lauren Hagemeyer – BYU-Hawaii’s phenomenal outside hitter was the talk of the recent NCAA Regionals in Laie. For the past three years, the left-handed senior from Colorado has been a powerful force both on and off the court.

Red Raider Football Nation – For the second straight year, Kahuku continued its grasp on the Hawaii High School Division I football championships. This year’s unbeaten team will go down as one of the best from a North Shore area that is a hot bed of local talent.

Raider Football Nation – At the High School Division II level, Iolani wrapped up yet another championship. Its dominated this division with six straight titles.

Cedric Petty Jr. and his dad, Cedric Sr. – Dad keeps me updated on their family’s monthly running progress – 16-year old Junior recently won his age group at a long distance meet in Kailua and ran his first half-marathon at XTerrra. He also has Dad running in the Masters division these days, so watch out for the Pettys!

Happy Holidays to all – and thanks for yet another great sports year!