For six decades it has stood as a symbol of academic and athletic excellence, rewarding the best of the best from across the North Shore.
Now 52 years young, The Salem News Student-Athlete Award will once again be awarded tomorrow to a deserving student-athlete who has combined terrific work in the classroom, outstanding performances in their field of athletics, a penchant for helping others and a willingness to multitask within their community.
Where it began as an award strictly given to football players — Peter Zeitzoff of Beverly High was the inaugural winner in 1962 — The Salem News Student-Athlete Award is now open to young men and women from a plethora of athletic endeavors.
So, who gets to be a student-athlete nominee? How does the process work? And who decides who ultimately wins?
Glad you asked.
Each year, the 14 high schools within The Salem News readership area (Beverly, Salem, Danvers, Peabody, Marblehead, Swampscott, Ipswich, Hamilton-Wenham, Masconomet, Pingree, North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie, Manchester Essex, Bishop Fenwick and St. John’s Prep) select a student to represent his or her school for a particular year. Transcripts, resumes and letters of recommendation for each student-athlete are then sent to The Salem News.
Each candidate must combine academic excellence, outstanding athletic prowess and the ability to multitask in areas such as volunteering, working part time and/or giving back to their community.
Each student-athlete candidate is then interviewed by a panel of five judges at The Salem News’ offices in Beverly. After all the interviews, the judges discuss the candidates until they reach a consensus on who the winner will be.
Tomorrow night, each of the nominees and their families meet with the judges and members of The Salem News for a dinner and awards ceremony at Finz Seafood and Grill in Salem. Each of the student-athletes is recognized individually during the dinner, and a guest speaker delivers a short speech to the assembled audience after dinner.