Like a song you’ve lovedyour entire lie, it just keepsgetting better with age.At 51 years and still goingstrong, The Salem NewsStudent-Athlete o theYear Award carries with itprestige, honor and almostsix decades o North Shoresporting and academictradition.From the inaugural awardgiven in 1962 to Peter Zeit-zo o Beverly High — whenonly ootball players wereup or consideration — tothe present day, when thebest and brightest youngmen and women rom allwalks o lie and athleticendeavors are nominatedeach year, The Salem NewsStudent-Athlete Awardremains one omost pres-tigious honors any NorthShore high school seniorcan receive. It stands as aculmination o our yearsworth o excellence in theclassroom, in athletics andoutside o school throughvarious extracurricularactivities or the awardwinner.The 51st annual SalemNews Student-Athlete awardwill be announced tonightduring a ceremony beingheld tonight at Finz Restau-rant in Salem.So how, exactly, is thewinner chosen? And whodetermines which student-athletes are nominated orthe award each year? Whopicks which o these out-standing student-athleteswins the trophy, and whatdoes the winner receive?Glad you asked. Here’s ashort history and explana-tion o the award.
The 14 high schoolswithin The Salem Newsreadership area — Beverly,Salem, Danvers, Peabody,Marblehead, Swampscott,Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham,Masconomet, Pingree, NorthShore Tech/Essex Aggie,Manchester Essex, BishopFenwick and St. John’s Prep— select whom they eelis their best and brightest12th grade student-athleteto represent their schoolor a particular year. Tran-scripts, resumes and letterso recommendation or eachstudent-athlete are thensent to The Salem News.
Each o these chosencandidates must combineacademic excellence, out-standing athletic prowessand the ability to multi-taskin areas such as volunteer-ing, working part-time and/or giving back to their com-munity. The candidate canbe male or emale and play just one sport or a variety o sports.
Once chosen by theirhigh school, each student-athlete candidate is thenindividually interviewedby a panel o fve judges atThe Salem News ofces inBeverly on the day that theStudent-Athlete Award willbe presented. Ater each o the 14 candidates has beeninterviewed, the fve judgesreview their notes and dis-cuss each o the candidatesuntil they reach a consensuson who the one Student-Athlete winner or that yearwill be. With so many excel-lent candidates, the processo choosing a winner eachyear is oten lengthy.
That evening, eacho the nominees and theiramilies meet with the judges and members o TheSalem News or a dinnerand awards ceremony. Eacho the student-athletes arerecognized individually dur-ing the dinner, and a guestspeaker delivers a shortspeech to the assembledaudience ater dinner. TheSalem News is proud to havePete Frates o Beverly, aormer St. John’s Prep andBoston College baseballcaptain who is now battlingamyotrophic lateral sclero-sis (ALS, better known asLou Gehrig’s Disease), asthis year’s speaker.
Ater the speech, the51st annual Salem NewsStudent-Athlete winner willbe announced. The winnerreceives a $1,000 NelsonBenton Scholarship, namedin honor o long-time SalemNews reporter and editor orwhom the Student-Athleteaward was a passion. Theywill also receive a commemo-rative bowl signiying thewin, along with their nameengraved on the Student-Ath-lete Trophy. In addition, thewinner’s school will get toshowcase the actual trophy,a fne Paul Revere-style bowlmade o sterling silver, withthe names o all the previouswinners engraved on it.Since The Salem NewsStudent-Athlete Awardwas frst awarded in 1962,it has been given out eachyear (aside rom 1994), T.J.D’Amato o Peabody Veter-ans Memorial High Schoolwon the 50th annual awardlast April.Each o the 14 NorthShore schools representedeach year have won TheSalem News Student-AthleteAward at least one time.Masconomet has won itmore times (7) than anyother school, but Peabodyis close behind (6). Out-standing student-athletesrom Beverly, Marblehead,Swampscott and Hamilton-Wenham have won theaward fve times each, whileIpswich and St. John’s Prephave each had our win-ners. Three times the win-ner has come rom Salem;twice rom Danvers; andonce each rom BishopFenwick, North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie, Pingree andManchester Essex.This year’s judges are LorinBuksa, a career counselor atNorth Shore Community Col-lege; Julie Livingston, presi-dent o Marblehead Bank;Michael Dellisola, claimsexaminer or Energi Insur-ance Services in Peabody;Bob Hanson, assistant vicepresident or commercialbanking at Salem Five Bank;and Phil Stacey, sports editorat The Salem News.
Celebrating 51 years of theSalem News Student-Athlete Award
There was no one quitelike Nelson Benton who hasever worked at The SalemNews.For more than 40 years,he did a little bit o every-thing at -- and or -- thenewspaper. From servingas a reporter, news editorand editorial page columnistto breaking thousands o stories and knowing areapolitics better than anyonealive, Benton was a walking,talking encyclopedia on allthings North Shore. He evensnowshoed to work duringthe blizzard o 1978.So it seemed only ftting,upon his retirement romthe newspaper last sum-mer, that one o the projectsthat was nearest and dear-est to his heart have a bito it attached to his nameorever.The annual $1,000 schol-arship given to the yearlywinner o The SalemNews Student-AthleteAward has been renamedthe Nelson BentonScholarship.For many years, Bentonspearheaded our Student-Athlete Award planning,coverage and presentation.He always got the ball roll-ing, sending out letters toeach school’s principals andathletic directors askingthem or their top student-athlete nominee each win-ter. From there, he’d do amyriad o tasks, includingcompile the nominees asthey came in and helpingmoderate the judging pro-cess to emceeing the ban-quet itsel and making surethe trophy was polished andready or presentation eachyear.While he is now happilyretired and living with hiswie in Arizona, Benton stillhas his pulse on the NorthShore. And while he mightnot be present or this year’sStudent-Athlete presenta-tion, what he’s done or theaward in the past will neverbe orgotten.
Student-Athlete scholarship renamed in Benton’s honor
ON THE COVER:
This year’s 14 Student-Athlete Award fnalists. top row, rom let:
, Salem High School;
, St. John’s Prep;
, Ipswich High School;
, Manchester Essex;
, EssexAggie/North Shore Tech. Middle row:
, Bishop Fenwick;
, Peabody. Bottom row:
, Swamspcott High School;
, Beverly High School;
, Pingree School;
, Marblehead High School
ON THE WEB:salemnews.com/saa13
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