New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis and the Eastbank Little League baseball and softball teams have been selected to receive Jimmy Collins Awards from the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Committee selects award winners in a variety of categories – it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year's Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame class. Overall, 24 individuals and four teams will be honored for their 2019-20 achievements. Honorees are being announced over a period of 24 days, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on June 10 and 11.
Outstanding Girls' Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Lakenya Reed, Booker T. Washington Basketball
Outstanding Boys' Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Nick Monica, Archbishop Rummel Football
Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Angela Charles-Alfred, Xavier University Tennis
Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Ja'Marr Chase, LSU Football
Outstanding Boys' Prep Team, New Orleans: St. James High School Football
Outstanding Girls' Prep Team, New Orleans: Metairie Park Country Day School Volleyball
Outstanding Collegiate Coach, Louisiana: Ed Orgeron, LSU Football
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Perry Clark, Tulane Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Tim Floyd, UNO Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Rick Jones, Tulane Baseball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Craig Perret, Horse Racing
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Ashley Tappin-Doussan, Swimming
Jimmy Collins Special Awards: Demario Davis, Eastbank Little League
Eddie Robinson Award: June 10 (Wednesday)
Corbett Award – Female: June 11 (Thursday)
Corbett Award – Male: June 12 (Friday)
This year the Committee chose to use Jimmy Collins Awards to recognize elite excellence on two different ends of the spectrum. The Eastbank Little League baseball and softball teams, primarily 12-year olds, will be honored after their memorable summer of 2019. And on the other end, Demario Davis, a 6-2, 248-pound linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, will be credited for his extensive work in the New Orleans community.
The Eastbank Little League baseball and softball programs achieved an unprecedented level of success for Louisiana last summer. The Eastbankers became just the second set of teams from the same league to advance to the Little League World Series in both baseball and softball.
Eastbank Little League was founded in 2014 and the girls 12-year old team has won five state championships. After reaching the Little League World Series in 2018, they returned in 2019 and advanced to the championship game before falling in a hard-fought contest.
"We like to say that we inspired the boys with our trip to the World Series last year," said Sally Moreau, one of the softball team's three volunteer coaches, along with Randy Deslatte and head coach Ray Weindel.
The Little League boys had an amazing summer of 2019. After winning the Southwest Regional series in Waco, Texas, the boys made their first trip to the revered fields of Williamsport, Pa. After losing their opening game, the team pulled together and won all of their remaining games including an 8-0 championship game victory over Curacao.
"Put the teams together and it's just a testament to what this area produces — incredible athletes," said Kevin Johnson, who coaches the boys team with two other volunteers, Scott Frazier and Don Abadie.
Davis, an All-Pro linebacker was one of five finalists for the Alan Page Community Award, the highest honor that the NFL Players Association bestows on its members. The award, "annually recognizes one player who goes above and beyond to serve communities in his team city and hometown."
Davis earned the Week 8 Community MVP Award from the NFLPA last fall. Initially he was fined $7,000 for a uniform violation after he wore a "Man of God" headband during a game against Seattle. The linebacker appealed the fine and prevailed after receiving a groundswell of support from fans, including students at St. Louis King of France School in New Orleans, who made their own "Child of God" headbands out of paper in support of him, which he called "the cutest thing."
The linebacker surprised the students with a pizza party and authentic "Child of God" headbands before he and his agents pondered "the best way to turn this into a positive where God gets the ultimate glory."
Davis decided to start selling replicas of the headbands and donating the proceeds to the emergency department at St. Dominic Hospital in his home state of Mississippi. Davis personally donated $9,000 of the more than $300,000 that has been raised. His foundation – Devoted Dreamers Foundation – has the stated mission "to equip the Next Generation of Leaders (athletes, entertainers, politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc.) with the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically." The Foundation works to provide inner-city youth with opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable.
Davis has teamed with former Saints tight end Benjamin Watson and current Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman on a variety of causes, including championing criminal justice reform, delivering fresh drinking water to residents of Flint, Mich., and bringing backpacks, books, toys and food to needy families at the United States-Mexico border.
Davis and the Little Leaguers have shown that success comes in a wide-range of packages and can be achieved in a wide-range of pursuits. And the Sports Awards Committee is proud to honor both for their accomplishments.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month - the honors enter their 64th year in 2020. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 96 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 86-year history. The 87th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2021. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.