The excitement is building.
Simply preparing for the second installment of the Shawnee News-Star Best of Preps awards at FireLake Arena May 7 would be exciting enough, but this year’s event has much more than our first effort.

The excitement is building.

Simply preparing for the second installment of the Shawnee News-Star Best of Preps awards at FireLake Arena May 7 would be exciting enough, but this year’s event has much more than our first effort.

Everyone in attendance will again enjoy some of the best catering around with a great meal from Paul’s Place.

We have added scholarships for the Male and Female Athletes of the Year. That’s a nice addition.

We have also added a new category – Male and Female Team of the Year. Individual accomplishments are great, but teamwork is what it athletics are all about.

Belfair of Shawnee has also jumped on board as the sponsor of the Courage Award for students who have overcome obstacles to compete in their sports.

As great as those are, nothing matches our newest and biggest feature.

We are wrapping up the new Student of the Month competitions. All Student of the Month winners will soon compete for the Student of the Year award.

Top finalists in that competition will receive scholarships that are funded in part by a sponsorship from Miracle Ear.

But the Patriot Student of the Year will win a huge prize. They will drive away that night in a brand new Jeep Renegade from Patriot Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram of Chandler.

That’s a brand new vehicle. It will be parked right in front of the stage in FireLake Arena and the winner will try it on for size as soon as their name is announced Monday, May 7.

Like most of us, Tatton Manning and Seth Knighton with Patriot of Chandler worked hard and saved up for vehicles that were anything but shiny and new. But they know what the students who win this competition do every day and they want to reward that effort.

Good grades, great character and a willingness to do what it takes to help out in the community mean a lot to Manning and Knighton. It means so much that they want to use this incredible prize to encourage students to try harder in the classroom and continue working hard outside school to help make their communities better.

Thanks to Amy Price of Shelter Insurance, the winner will have help to cover the costs of the tag and tax for the new vehicle.

We have many more great sponsors who will make this event even bigger and better than last year. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is working with us to make the Arena an incredible venue for the event. Angelic Hospice is sponsoring the Teams of the Year. Other sponsors include Shawnee Milling, Extreme Roofing, Georg Fischer Central Plastics, Sparks Heating and Air, and my personal favorite new sponsor Bar-S Foods of Seminole.

All of the sponsors do their part to make the event the best around, but is there a better sponsor for Baseball Player of the Year than a company that makes hot dogs? That is a match made in Heaven – or at least a Field of Dreams.

Another award the just makes sense is making naming the Tennis Player of the Year award in honor of Sen. Ron Sharp. Before becoming a state senator, Sharp was a tennis player, educator and tennis coach in Shawnee. His career achievements qualified him to be inducted into the Oklahoma Tennis Hall of Fame this year. Each year, the Best of Preps Tennis Player of the Year will be honored with an award bearing his name.

Finalists from fall and winter sports have been named and the spring sports nominees are coming into focus. Invitations have already started going out to finalists.

We still have plenty of tickets available at www.news-star/preps. Call 405-273-4200 if you would like to sponsor a table.

With more than $4,000 in scholarships and a new car and more than 50 plaques an 150 certificates to be award, this should be one of the biggest nights of the year.