AL.com Takes Home 10 ASWA Writing Awards, BamaCentral Wins Eight

Ivan Maisel, Steve Savarese honored at Alabama Sports Writers Association annual awards banquet
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — AL.com took home 10 overall awards including five first-place honors, and Bama Central won eight prizes and five first-place trophies during the Alabama Sports Writers Association's annual awards banquet on Sunday night. 

The ASWA also gave out two special honors, naming retiring executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Steve Savarese the first recipient of the ASWA Presidents' Award, and inducted Mobile native Ivan Maisel into its Hall of Honor. 

The ASWA Presidents' Award will annually go to the individual who displays outstanding community service activities, and overall excellence while exemplifying the spirit of athletics in the state. The announcement was a surprise to Savarese. 

The Hall of Honor recognizes individuals who either have been instrumental to the growth and success of ASWA, or to sports journalism in general and he or she has a strong Alabama tie.

Christopher Walsh of AlabamaCentral led the multiple winners with five awards including first place in column writing, project and general feature.

Creg Stephenson AL.com won four awards including best baseball feature. 

Tommy Hicks of Lagniappe had three awards, including first-place game story for a non-daily publication. 

Ben Thomas of AL.com, Tom Green of AL.com, and Tyler Martin of BamaCentral all won two awards. 

Aaron Suttles of The Athletic won the Herby Kirby Memorial Award for story of the year for "Landon Dickerson played in the National Championship Game after tearing ACL."

Other awards presented were Mr. Baseball to UMS-Wright’s Maddux Bruns, Miss Softball to Spain Park’s Annabelle Widra, and Belgreen’s Emma Dempsey won the Jimmy Smothers Courage Award for overcoming adversity.

For athletes of the year, the winners were Derrick Henry (pro), Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (amateur), Samford quarterback Liam Welch (small college) and Central Alabama golfer Hayden Carner (community college). 

ASWA Writing Contest Winners

Best sports story writing on a deadline professional or college event

1. Aaron Suttles, The Athletic: Landon Dickerson played in the National Championship Game after tearing ACL

2. Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral: As Alabama basketball celebrated its biggest legend, another emerged

Best sports story writing on a deadline, prep or other amateur

1. Ben Thomas, AL.com: Thompson scores 10 points in final 18 seconds, stuns Auburn in 7A title game

2. Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser: Calhoun and Central-Hayneville rekindle their longstanding high school basketball rivalry

Best columns 

1. Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral 

- Wendell Hudson the perfect choice for the first retired jersey at Alabama 

- College football can only blame itself for unleashing Alabama's offensive potential

- Jaylen Waddle injury not just a blow for Alabama, but all of college football

- With clutch consistency, DeVonta Smith will never be overlooked again

2. Ben Thomas, AL.com

- The clear message for the 2020 HS football season: Savor the moment

- Safe to shore: Hurricane brings more challenges, chances to grow

- The story behind Thompson's once-in-a-lifetime comeback win

-Choose joy: Looking back and learning from Week 1

Best football feature Power 5 program or NFL

1. Tom Green, AL.com: Tega Wanogho almost walked away from football. Sacrifice, family brought him back 

2. Creg Stephenson AL.com: What if Paul 'Bear' Bryant had taken the Miami Dolphins job in 1970?

Best football feature, general

1. Tony Tsoukalas, BamaInsider: Will Reichard, Hoover High School kicker with Coach Josh Niblett

2. Creg Stephenson, AL.com: 'He put recruiting on the front page;' Catching up with Forrest Davis

Best basketball feature 

1. Mark Heim, AL.com: COVID-19 wrecks havoc on spring and summer basketball circuit

2. Tom Green, AL.com: Former Mr. Basketball Kerron Johnson stranded in Romania during pandemic as pregnant wife awaits birth of first child in Alabama 

Best baseball feature

1. Creg Stephenson, AL.com: The story of Al Worthington, who once quit baseball over sign-stealing

2. Gregg Dewalt, Florence TimesDaily: Former Hackleburg baseball players recall the deadly 2011 tornado and the playoff series they played five days later

Best general feature

1. Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral: For Alabama thrower, 'BC' doesn't simply represent his initials, but also 'Beat Cancer'

2. Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral: Alabama's next superstar in the making goes by the name Montana

Best enterprise/explanatory story 

1. Tom Green, AL.com: A different kind of gameday for the SEC's live mascots in 2020 

2. Creg Stephenson, AL.com: 'From the whole morality of the thing;' Oakland Raiders' 1963 boycott of Mobile game was early example of athlete empowerment 

Best investigative story 

1. Tyler Martin, BamaCentral: Former Crimson Tide gymnast Tia Kiaku speaks out on why she left Alabama 

Breaking news story 

1. Tyler Martin, BamaCentral: SEC cancels men's basketball tournament and suspends spring sports due to COVID-19

2. Joey Blackwell, BamaCentral: Alabama athletes march against racial injustice

Project

1. Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral: The Saban Top 100, ranking the best Alabama players of the Nick Saban era

Best column or feature, non-daily 

1. Arthur Mack, Call News: Saints coaching great Tate to retire at 78

2. Tommy Hicks, Lagniappe: CFP proves again it's not open to all

Best game story, non-daily 

1. Tommy Hicks, Lagniappe: Spanish Fort finds disappointment in the title game again

2. Tommy Hicks, Lagniappe: St. Paul's captures 5A state championship

Herby Kirby Memorial Award (story of the year)

Aaron Suttles, The Athletic: Landon Dickerson played in the National Championship Game after tearing ACL