Prep Legends Awards show has prime-time showcase on KABC/7


The culmination of a celebrated Southern California high school sports season comes to another moment worth acknowledging – the first-of-its-kind televised awards show to recognize those who shined the brightest.

Friday night’s Southern California Toyota Dealers SoCal Prep Legends Awards show on KABC/7, airing at approximately 8:30 p.m. immediately after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, will spotlight nine categories, including the boys and girls athlete of the year.

Rob Fukuzaki will host the live hour-long event from the ABC7 Glendale studios, with former Lakers star Norm Nixon and Tracy Murray.

TV: KABC/7, Friday, approximately 8:30 p.m.
Summary: The Southern California Newspaper Group, which includes the Register, will present its high school sports awards for nine categories during a one-hour live show that follows Friday night’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The staff of the Southern California News Group, spearheaded by executive sports editor Tom Moore, selected the categories and finalists. They brought together an idea created by news group vice president of marketing Bill Van Laningham that launched as a weekly prep spotlight award for readers of the 11 SCNG media outlets – the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press Telegram, the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, San Bernardino Sun, Whittier Daily News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Redlands Daily Facts.

Cheryl Fair, KABC president and general manager, calls this awards show the perfect marriage of the newspaper group, the TV platform and digital properties, giving exposure to the thousands of student athletes of approximately 700 high schools covering the CIF Southern Section and L.A. City Section.

“This gives us all the ability to focus on this in a meaningful way and interact with all these young people who worked so hard,” Fair said.

KABC news director Rob Elmore noted that every town is a sports town at the grassroots level, and “local high school sports is where it happens. This gives us all such a great opportunity to make a connection. We haven’t been able to do it on this level before. We want to take this to the next level and beyond, use this show as the start of something bigger.”

Executive producer Edd Adamko orchestrated special involvement with the Dodgers, Lakers, Rams, Sparks, Galaxy and other Southern California sports celebrities with surprised taped segments involving the winners.

Van Laningham’s inspiration for the project came several years ago in trying to tie together how the SCNG entities honored their local high school athletes each year beyond an all-area team or an all-star game.

“Local news and prep sports has always been the strongest component of our coverage in all our markets, and we wanted to have that all come together in our larger footprint,” Van Laningham said. “I have also been impressed with how the ESPY Awards have been a very cool event, and how we might be able to replicate that in some way to make it special for the athletes and their families.

“Finding a TV partner was a key part of this project, and it is incredibly fulfilling to get to this point where all the work and effort has come together. We are very happy how a station with the prominence of ABC7 has come on board and elevated this.”

Moore said the dozens of SCNG editors and reporters involved in the vetting process took the task seriously as a year-round task.

“This is one of the best regions of high school athletes in the country and has produced people like Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, John Elway, Lisa Leslie,” Moore said. “When you are picking athletes of the year from this region, you are looking at potential Hall of Famers.

“We’re also thrilled to include great high school coverage from OC Varsity and the Riverside Press-Enterprise. We want Prep Legends to help promote their great local coverage. I feel there is great anticipation for this show and all the exposure it gives everyone.”

Fair noted that airing the show in prime time on Friday night to capture the NBA Finals game audience was also done to showcase “the importance of this, to highlight these players.”

The five finalists for the top awards include:

Boys athlete of the year: Phillip Rocha of Arcadia (cross country); Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills (basketball); Mique Juarez of North Torrance (football); Grant Shoults of Santa Margarita (swimming); and Michael Norman of Vista Murrieta (track and field).

Girls athlete of the year: Destiny Collins of Great Oak of Temecula (cross country, track); Courtney Corrin of Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (soccer, track); Valerie Higgins of Chaminade of West Hills (basketball); Norene Iosia of Redondo Union (volleyball); and Ena Shibahara of Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates (tennis).

Team of the year: Chino Hills boys basketball; Chaminade girls basketball; Centennial of Corona football; Great Oak cross country; and Santa Margarita girls soccer.

Coach of the year: Doug Soles of Great Oak (cross country); Jeff Sink of Brea Olinda (girls basketball); Steve Baik of Chino Hills (boys basketball); Kelli DiMuro of Chaminade (girls basketball); and Walter Escobar of Taft of Woodland Hills (girls soccer).

Also honored will be the game of the year, play of the year, best individual performance and the boys and girls scholar-athletes of the year.

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