World-class, celebrity athletes will recognize high school student athletes across the country at 59 digitally streamed local events

Gannett Ventures, part of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), is pivoting its annual USA TODAY High School Sports Awards series, the largest high school athlete recognition program in the U.S., from live community events, into star-studded on-demand award shows that will broadcast online on Thursday, June 18th.

The USA TODAY High School Sports Awards shows, which were originally planned throughout April, May and June, in 59 cities and towns across 28 states will now be streamed online, enabling each community to maintain their annual tradition of honoring student athletes for their hard work and dedication over the past academic year. The award shows will be hosted by national TV sports personalities and broadcasters Courtney Cronin, Jesse Palmer, Dr. Jerry Punch, and Sage Steele, with customized streams for each community.

This year, professional and Olympic athletes have joined the program set to honor over 28,000 student athletes and will be presenting awards during the broadcast for each sport. Additionally, reigning Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will announce Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards and Bill Belichick, head coach of the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, will present Coach of the Year and Team of the Year. And, NBC News’ TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb will recognize some of this year’s Courage Award recipients, athletes who exhibit extraordinary strength and courage in daily life, both on and off the field.

Individual sports presenters include:

  • Drew Brees: Football Player of the Year
  • Jordan Burroughs: Wrestler & Powerlifter of the Year
  • Stephen Curry: Basketball Player of the Year
  • Gabby Douglas: Gymnast of the Year
  • Norm Duke: Bowler of the Year
  • Wayne Gretzky: Hockey Player of the Year
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Cross Country & Indoor Track Runner of the Year
  • Rose Lavelle: Soccer Player of the Year
  • Jessica Mendoza: Softball Player of the Year
  • Bode Miller: Skier of the Year
  • Michael Phelps: Swimmer of the Year
  • Keli Smith-Puzo: Field Hockey Player of the Year
  • Misty May-Treanor: Volleyball Player of the Year
  • Venus Williams: Tennis Player of the Year
  • Gary Woodland: Golfer of the Year

“As one of the most loved and anticipated events in our communities, we wanted to continue to provide our student athletes the opportunity to celebrate and be recognized for their outstanding athletic achievements,” said Jason Taylor, Head of Gannett Ventures. “The young adults across America have lost out on many commemorative high school moments - from graduations to prom - and we are thrilled so many high profile athletes have signed on to be a part of the experience to give the student athletes the special recognition they deserve.”

“I commend the efforts of everyone coming together during these uncertain times to make this event very special for our high school student athletes across the country,” said Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a past presenter. “This year’s celebration is very different from the previous events but is one student athletes will never forget. I am honored to be a presenter to salute some of the very best talent our country has ever seen.”

The broadcast events, made possible by the many sponsors and partners across the communities, will conclude with a national senior sports salute and message, “Don’t Stop Now”, recognizing high school seniors whose spring sports seasons were canceled. The video will feature at least one student from each of the High School Sports Award communities, and in most markets, a list of seniors who missed their final games will display as rolling credits. Celebrities who are joining the celebration will use the #DontStopNow message as a national movement of inspiration and recognition.

The broadcast shows premiere at 6 PM local times on June 18th. For a full list of individual community events, visit

About Gannett

Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is an innovative, digitally focused media and marketing solutions company committed to the communities in our network and helping them build relationships with their local businesses. With an unmatched reach at the national and local level, Gannett touches the lives of millions with our Pulitzer-Prize winning content, consumer experiences and benefits, and advertiser products and services. Our portfolio includes the USA TODAY, local media organizations in 46 states in the U.S. and Guam, and Newsquest, a wholly owned subsidiary with over 140 local media brands operating in the United Kingdom. Gannett also owns the digital marketing services companies ReachLocal, Inc., UpCurve, Inc., and WordStream, Inc. and runs the largest media-owned events business in the U.S., Gannett Ventures, formerly GateHouse Live. Effective November 20, 2019, following the completion of its merger with Gannett, New Media Investment Group Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under Gannett Co., Inc. and its ticker symbol has changed to “GCI”. To connect with us, visit 

Stephanie Tackach Sr. Director of Corporate Communications (212) 715-5490