, BamaCentral Lead Alabama Sports Writers Association Awards

Michael Casagrande wins Herby Kriby Award for story of the year; Christopher Walsh presented with the prestigious Bill Shelton Award
The Herby Kirby Memorial Award by the Alabama Sports Writers Association for story of the year.
The Herby Kirby Memorial Award by the Alabama Sports Writers Association for story of the year. / Christopher Walsh/BamaCentral and BamaCentral headlined the 52nd annual Alabama Sports Writers Association’s convention and awards banquet at Jacksonville State on Sunday night.

Led by Michael Casagrande and Ben Thomas, won seven awards in the annual writers' contest. Casagrande's feature "Bryant’s Pallbearers Recall Experience 40 Years Later" won the Herby Kirby Memorial Award as story of the year. Thomas placed first in three divisions, breaking news, best baseball feature and column writing.

BamaCentral also won seven writing awards, with Katie Windham placing first in best sports story writing on a deadline (about Alabama winning the SEC Championship Game), and best softball story (Montana Fouts). Christopher Walsh was first in projects and runner-up with Mason Smith in breaking news. Will Miller was runner-up in best baseball feature, and won for best story by a student, with Mathey Gibson the runner-up.

Walsh, the founder and publisher of BamaCentral, was also presented with the Bill Shelton Award, a community service honor given to the top journalist in the state who excels in contributions to making the community better through journalism. Named after the former longtime sports editor at The Cullman Times, it is not considered an annual honor.

ASWA Writing Awards

Best sports story, Writing on a Deadline (must be published, online or print, within 24 hours of event and written by an individual):

Winner: Katie Windham, BamaCentral; Alabama Leaves No Doubt After Beating Georgia, Tide is one of the Four Best Teams

Runner-up: Tony Tsoukalas, Tide Illustrated; Jalen Milroe’s Resiliency Encapsulates Alabama’s Identity

Best Column (entrant judged on four columns from anytime in year)

Winner: Ben Thomas,, Is Recruiting Really a Big Problem in High School Sports; Tim Becker’s 30th Baseball Season will be the First Without his “Rock”; Bo Jackson’s Prep Coach Still Lives to Serve Others; Soy Taylor Always Found a Reason to Choose Joy

Runner-up: Arthur Mack, Call News; Senior Bowl remains strong, says Nagy; Just One Lousy Point; This Show Worthy of an Oscar; Olympics in the Future for Morgan?

Best Football Feature (Power 5 programs or NFL)

Winner: Michael Casagrande,; Bryant’s Pallbearers Recall Experience 40 Years Later

Runner-up: Cody Goodwin, Bama247; Guest Speakers Give the Crimson Tide a Lift in Fall Camp

Best Basketball Feature

Winner: David Glovach, Florence TimesDaily; Going-Away Gift: From Japan to U.S., Suzuki’s Family Helps Honor UNA Guard

Runner-up: Bob Labbe, Huntsville Magazine; Tim Miller Legendary Coach

Best Baseball Feature

Winner: Ben Thomas,; ‘An Old Soul:’ Mobile Christian’s Ben Brewer Battles on Despite Losing his “Rock’ 2 Years Ago

Runner-up: Will Miller, BamaCentral; People are the Focus for New Alabama Baseball Head Coach Rob Vaughn

Best Softball Feature

Winner: Katie Windham, BamaCentral; Montana Fouts Leaves Legacy of Loyalty, Leadership, Love

Runner-up: David Glovach, Florence TimesDaily; ‘Quite the Journey:’ Plenty of Moving Parts, Adaptions as UNA, Florence Ready for Tide

Best General Feature

Winner: David Glovach, Florence TimesDaily; ‘The Best in the Business:’ After 40 Years at UNA, Hodges has had Lasting Impact

Runner-up: David Glovach, Florence TimesDaily; Slava Ukrani: Deshley Kicker’s Thoughts Often on War-Torn Home

Best Enterprise/Explanatory Story

Winner: Creg Stephenson,; Birmingham’s Multi-Decade Flirtation with the NFL

Runner-up: Michael Casagrande,; Dixieland Delight Songwriter has Surreal First Alabama Game

Breaking News Story

Winner: Ben Thomas,; ‘Everybody Loved Phil:’ Star Dadeville Athlete Among Those Killed in Mass Shooting

Runner-up: Christopher Walsh/Mason Smith;,BamaCentral; Alabama Basketball Player Darius Miles Charged with Capital Murder


Winner: Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral; Bama in the NFL: Crimson Tide's Impact Nothing Short of Immense

Best stories or series writing: Students

Winner: Will Miller, BamaCentral; Revenge and Revitalization: How an Upset Brought New Life to an Old Rivalry

Runner-up: Mathey Gibson, BamaCentral: Auburn Head Coach Hugh Freeze After Iron Bowl Defeat: “That’s Gonna Strick with us for a While”

Sweepstakes Award (Herby Kirby Memorial Award)

Best story from all categories above: Michael Casagrande,; Bryant’s Pallbearers Recall Experience 40 Years Later

UWA’s Kent Partridge to Enter ASWA's Hall of Honor

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Christopher Walsh


Christopher Walsh is the founder and publisher of BamaCentral, which first published in 2018. He's covered the Crimson Tide since 2004, and is the author of 26 books including Decade of Dominance, 100 Things Crimson Tide Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Nick Saban vs. College Football, and Bama Dynasty: The Crimson Tide's Road to College Football Immortality. He's an eight-time honoree of Football Writers Association of America awards and three-time winner of the Herby Kirby Memorial Award, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest writing honor for story of the year. In 2022, he was named one of the 50 Legends of the ASWA. Previous beats include the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Originally from Minnesota and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he currently resides in Tuscaloosa.