Brees to speak at Best of MS Preps event

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints will be the featured speaker at The Clarion-Ledger’s Best of MS Preps banquet on May 28 in Jackson.  The doors will open at 6:00 pm for the 6:30 pm dinner featuring keynote address by Brees.

Best of MS Preps will honor athletes from all reaches of Mississippi — with honorees from all 82 counties. Twenty-two Best of MS Preps boys and girls sports will be recognized.  Players making first team through honorable mention are invited to the Best of MS Preps banquet.  The Player of the Year from each sport will be announced and we will honor the state’s top coaches and others who exemplify the very best of Mississippi high school athletics. The event is open to the public, and ticket information will be released at a later date at clarionledger.com.

“All of us at The Clarion-Ledger are excited about Best of MS Preps,” said Jason Taylor, publisher of The Clarion-Ledger. “There are so many great stories in Mississippi high school athletics, and this program will give these student-athletes more of the recognition they deserve.”

“This is a major example of our renewed commitment to high school sports. We know our readers and communities are passionate about high school sports, and this will be the pinnacle of recognition for these athletes.”

The event, sponsored by the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Baptist Health Systems, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and Entergy, is an extension of the Pop Stars Awards, hosted for the past 12 years by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

“We are pleased to sponsor Best of MS Preps and excited to help recognize our talented young male and female athletes in Mississippi for their accomplishments,” said Robert Lodes, the chief executive officer at the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. “This program fits perfectly with our mission to serve the needs of high school athletes in our state.”

“Investing in and supporting the youth of our state is something we are committed to doing here at Baptist,” Baptist Health Systems CEO Chris Anderson said. “Participating in sports and recreational activities is an important way for youth to develop healthy and physically active lifestyles.

“We are excited to recognize these young athletes and the sportsmanship they demonstrate. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is a long-time supporter of Mississippi’s student-athletes through a number of avenues, including the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Gridiron Classic and Soccer Classic high school championship events,” said Meredith Virden Bailess, the director of corporate communications at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “When students participate in sports, they quickly learn the benefits of healthy habits like staying active, eating well, as well as setting and working to achieve goals. The Best of MS Preps awards provide another unique opportunity to recognize and reward our talented, hard-working student-athletes across sports and teams. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is proud to be a part of introducing this special event in our state.”

“We couldn’t be more proud to be a lead sponsor of this program and to honor the achievements of these students,” said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO. “They are developing their minds through academics, their bodies through athletics and by doing so, are developing a healthy, competitive spirit. These are exactly the traits we need in Mississippi’s future leaders and workforce.”

The event is done in association with the MHSAA and the MAIS. A portion of the proceeds from the Best of MS Preps will also go toward the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

“Our partners at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, MHSAA and the MAIS will be instrumental in making this program thrive,” Taylor said.

The MSHOF’s year-end banquet, the PopStar Awards, will fold into the Best of MS Preps event. Pop-Stars was named after W.C. “Pop” Allen, the late longtime athletic director for Jackson Public Schools. Some key awards from Pop-Stars will be handed out at the Best of MS Preps banquet.

“(PopStars has) been a very successful event, and what we are doing is multiplying it by five or even 10 and making it a bigger event,” said Rick Cleveland, the executive director of the MSHOF. “We agreed it sounded like a bigger, better way of reaching more people, and making sure Mississippi high school athletes get their just desserts.”

The Best of MS Preps teams are selected by The Clarion-Ledger Sports staff.

The athletes are chosen based on staff observations and input from high school and college coaches throughout Mississippi. The Best of MS Preps athletes will be invited to the banquet by letter at their school. “I am grateful to our sponsors for making a recognition program of this magnitude possible for the state of Mississippi,” Taylor said.

The banquet will be held at the Jackson Convention Complex and individual tickets are on sale for $50 through http://www.showclix.com/event/BestofMSPreps. The deadline to buy tickets is May 25.

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