ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — Natchez High School junior Derrian Johnson smiles Monday evening as he receives the academic award for baseball at the 2012 Sports Awards Banquet. Johnson also won an award for offensive player of the year. Other sports highlighted included fast-pitch softball, tennis, cross country track, indoor track, track and field and golf.

Natchez celebrates spring sports athletes at annual banquet

Published 12:01am Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NATCHEZ — Monday night’s banquet in honor of all the Natchez High School athletes that participated in spring sports was a time for each player to have their name called and have their efforts recognized by their friends and family.

But for Natchez senior Charles Marsaw it meant much more than having people clap as he had his name called for the numerous honors he received.

“I just thought about all the hard work I’ve done my whole high school career and how it has paid off,” Marsaw said.

Marsaw earned his fourth letter in each of the three track and field events he participated in this year (indoor, outdoor and cross country). He also won academic awards for indoor and outdoor track and field.

“In my house academics is the most important thing,” Marsaw said about which award he favored. “My mama always tells me to get my academics in first.”

Marsaw’s ability to perform in the classroom and on the track has earned him a scholarship to Alcorn University next fall. But even though he will continue his career next year, he will always have his Natchez career to remember, he said.

“I will probably miss all my teammates and all the fun we had on trips,” he said.

Philicia Wimley also received her fourth letter for the three track and field seasons as well as the academic awards, but she said she was glad all her teammates received awards Monday.

“It’s nice that everybody gets recognized for what they do,” Wimley said.

Monday’s banquet at the Steckler Multipurpose Building was to honor Natchez athletes that participated in baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf.

Athletic Director Fred Butcher said these seasonal banquets are important to show the athletes they are appreciated.

“We try to show we appreciate the hard work, blood sweat and tears they put in,” Butcher said. “We also try to reinforce the academic part and stress academics and athletics, because you can’t do athletics without having your academics completed.”

Butcher said he was pleased with the outcome of the spring athletic season, and he was glad to see the commitment the athletes showed to their teams.

Natchez baseball coach Skip Golding said he was proud to present awards to his players, and the banquet is a great event for each student athlete.

“It’s good for the kids,” he said. “It’s part of the high school athletic experience to be recognized. It’s an enjoyable part of the athletic experience in high school.

“I respect these kids a lot. Because they could not play anything, and it’s hard to come out to practice every day when they have so many other options.”

Golding gave his top baseball honor (the Nook Logan award for best all-around player) to the team’s only senior, Dominique Salter.

Natchez senior golfer Jonathan Weir said the banquet was nice for him because the golf team does not get many spectators during the season.

“They only way I can describe (getting awards at the banquet) is exciting,” he said. “It’s nice to get appreciated.”

Weir and fellow senior Trey Hill led the way for a Natchez team that improved a great deal from last year under the tutelage of coach Jerry Baldwin and local city champion Pete Powell, Weir said.

Weir will play golf for Alcorn State next year.

The top two tennis awards went to Michael Cleveland and Whitney Jackson. Both players were unable to attend the banquet, because they are playing as a mixed doubles team in the state tennis tournament.

Natchez softball coach ShaRonda Welch gave out several awards to her young softball team, including most improved offensive player (Jessilyn Caston), most improved defensive player (Holly Waterman), most dedicated (Kayla Gilmore) and most spirit (Michaela Hutchins).