The Bluegrass Sports Commission continued its tradition of honoring high achievers in Kentucky sports when it named the winners of the 2017 Bluegrass Sports Awards on Monday.
Don Lane, Larry Collmus, Kenneth Ramsey, Sarah Ramsey, Billy Reed and Kim Sweazy will be recognized during the sixth annual Bluegrass Sports Awards presented by Alltech. The banquet will be held Feb. 1, 2017, at the Lexington Convention Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom.
The evening concludes with the Lexington Herald-Leader’s announcement of the Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year.
“Our award winners have had unparalleled success in their respective industries and are very deserving,” Bluegrass Sports Commission president and CEO Brian Miller said. “This event has grown into one of the bigger nights celebrating the sports industry in Kentucky.”
The five awards highlight the achievements of sports figures who have made a difference in the lives of Kentuckians:
Jim Host Youth Sports Award: Lane, was inducted into the Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 after a 26-year career as head coach at Transylvania, during which he compiled a 509-245 record. He is also a member of the Transylvania Athletic Hall of Fame and the Union College Athletic Hall of Fame.
“No one has connected more with youth than Don Lane,” Host said. “From the beginnings of his basketball camps for young people to a storied career as one of the all-time great NAIA and NCAA Division III coaches in history at Transylvania, Don Lane has helped so many young people in the true meaning of sports.”
Previous winners of the Youth Sports Award include Martha Layne Collins, Louis Stout, Dave Kerchner, Don Adkins and Mike Fields.
Jim Host Sports Business Award: The Ramseys are the co-winners for 2017. They own Ramsey Farm, a 1,200-acre horse breeding operation in Nicholasville and have raced horses at tracks throughout the United States. They have multiple graded stakes winners, three Breeders’ Cup winners, and the Ramseys themselves have won multiple Eclipse Awards for outstanding owner and breeder.
“For people to have excelled like Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey have in the Thoroughbred business is like a fictional story that would become a best-selling book,” Host said.
The Ramseys join previous Sports Business Award winners Bill Farish, Mitch Barnhart, Alan Stein, Jerry Carroll and Ted Bassett.
Tom Hammond Sports Media Award: Collmus receives the national media award. A native of Baltimore, Collmus got his start by calling his first race at Bowie Race Track in 1985 at the age of 18. In 2011 he became the voice of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup broadcasts on NBC Sports. In 2014 he was named track announcer at Churchill Downs and also became the voice of the New York Racing Association.
“Larry Collmus is regarded as one of the top horse race callers in the world,” Hammond said. “Mixing accuracy and drama, his calls of Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races are legendary.”
Collmus joins previous winners Dick Enberg, Marty Brennaman, Cris Collinsworth and Larry Conley.
Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award: Reed, a Mount Sterling native, has spent the better part of 40 years covering major sporting events around the country for such publications as the Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times, and the Churchill Downs website. A three-time recipient of the Eclipse Award and an eight-time Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year, Reed is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame.
“Billy Reed has spent his lifetime writing about sports both in our state and nationally,” Hammond said. “He has established himself as one of the most accomplished journalists in Kentucky’s history.”
He joins past winners Jennie Rees, Larry Vaught and Dick Gabriel, Mike Battaglia, Donna Brothers and Kenny Rice.
Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year Award: Sweazy, who has worked at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky since 1989 and has been named Volunteer of the Year three times, dedicates the majority of her time and effort to the Children’s Charity Fund of the Bluegrass, for which she has been president for 10 years. The organization oversees the annual Children’s Charity Celebrity Golf Classic. Since its launch, CCFB has raised more than $11 million dollars for agencies that benefit Central Kentucky children.
“Kim has given endlessly to this community and embodies what this award is all about,” Miller said. “There is no doubt that our community is better because of the efforts of Kim Sweazy.”
Sweazy joins previous winners Van Florence and Bobby Flynn.
In addition to these awards, the Herald-Leader will again present its Sports Figure of the Year Award live to cap off the evening.
The Herald-Leader has recognized the Kentucky Sportsman of the Year annually since 1981, when Roy Kidd won the inaugural award. Voting is conducted by sports media from around the state and is coordinated by the Herald-Leader. Ten finalists will be revealed prior to the banquet in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com.
The event will consist of a reception with award winners and keynote speakers, a sit-down dinner and awards program. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the sports commission and its efforts to grow the economic impact sports tourism has on Central Kentucky. Tables of 10 are available for purchase for $1,250. Individual tickets are also available for $150.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 859-286-5156 or visit www.bluegrasssports.org.
Name change for Herald-Leader award
When former Herald-Leader sports copy editor Bruce Engel launched the Kentucky Sportsman of the Year award in 1981, it was modeled on Sports Illustrated’s national award of the same name.
Across the years, some have objected to such awards because they believe the “man” in “Sportsman” suggests a gender bias.
In 2015, SI announced that it was changing the name of its annual award to “Sports Person of the Year.”
At the Herald-Leader, we have decided to again follow SI and make a change as well.
Starting with the 2016 winner, our award — which is voted on by media members from across the state — will heretofore be known as the Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year.
In the context we were using “Sportsman,” the definition was “one who exemplifies the best of sport.”
Over the 35-year history of the Herald-Leader award both men and women have won.
Our winners have also included a university president (David Roselle in 1989), a radio play-by-play announcer (Cawood Ledford in 1991) and a horse (Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner American Pharoah last year).
We believe that in choosing “Sports Figure,” we keep our award open to the broadest possible range of winners.
Our hope is that the voters will continue to choose the one candidate who represents the best of Kentucky sports in a given year.