Athletes honored at banquet

Published: Thursday, April 5 2012 9:27 p.m. MDT

NBA Commissioner David Stern talks about Larry Miller at the first annual Governor's State of Sport Awards banquet sponsored by Utah Sports Commission Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Several of Utah's top athletes were honored Thursday at the first annual Governor's State of State Sport Awards at the EnergySolutions Arena.

Besides the awards ceremony, NBA commissioner David Stern gave the keynote address and Jazz owner Larry Miller was honored posthumously with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Utah Governor Gary Herbert also spoke at the luncheon.

"I'm proud to be part of the first Governor's State of Sport Awards and can't think of a more fitting tribute to the athletes of Utah as well as the college and professional organizations," said Stern, who attended the Jazz-Phoenix game the night before.

Stern praised Miller for his contributions to the NBA and for keeping the Utah Jazz franchise in Utah and to the Jazz organization for their contributions off the court in programs such as reading and learning centers, literacy and graduation, as well as the Junior Jazz.

"Sports improve the communities we live in today," Stern said.

The awards given out for the 2011 calendar year, were voted upon online over a two-week period in late March. According to Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, which hosted the luncheon, nearly 41,000 people from 49 states and 10 foreign countries voted for the award winners.

"We were very pleased to see fans respond so enthusiastically to vote for their favorites," Robbins said.

Most of the winners had BYU connections, led by Jimmer Fredette, who was selected in the Male College-Pro Athlete category and in the Play or Highlight of the Year category for his halfcourt shot against Utah in the 2011 season.

Fredette gave a response by video, thanking his coaches, teammate and fans for the award and his father, Al, accepted one of the awards for his son and thanked the fans of Utah for their support of his son.

Others nominated for the male athlete award were San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle, Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman and snowboarder Louis Vito..

BYU soccer player Carlee Payne won the Female College-Pro Athlete Award, beating out Utah gymnast Stephanie McAllister, Utah basketball player Michelle Plouffe and Team USA speedskater Katherine Reutter.

Coach of the Year honors went to BYU's Dave Rose, who led his team to a school-record 32 wins in 2010-11 and a berth in the Sweet 16. Other nominees were RSL's Jason Kreis and Utah State's Stew Morrill and Gary Anderson..

BYU's win over Gonzaga in the 2011 NCAA Tournament won the award for top game or event of the year, ahead of Utah's Sun Bowl win over Georgia Tech, J.J. Killeen's win at the Nationwide Tour Utah Championship and the Summer and Winter Dew Tour events.

Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen, who is going to the University of Utah, won the Male High School Athlete award ahead of West Jordan basketball star Jordan Loveridge, Logan quarterback D.J. Nelson and Spanish Fork baseball player Kayden Porter.

Springville High's Lexi Eaton, who now plays for the BYU basketball team, won the Female High School Athlete award. Other nominees included Syracuse basketball player Brittney Martin, Roy softball pitcher Macauley Flint and Juan Diego soccer player Emily Bruder.

email: sor@desnews.com

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