SportsPigskin Club of Washington honors local athletes and coaches

Pigskin Club of Washington honors local athletes and coaches

More than 300 people gathered at Pryzbyla Center at Catholic University for the Pigskin Club of Washington’s annual fall sports awards banquet, following the organization’s long tradition of honoring local athletes, coaches and community.

“For those who received an award, continue to strive for excellence,” said Bruce Bradford, a retired educator who served as MC for the banquet. “I encourage you to take the time as you move to the next level to put more effort into becoming well-rounded in all your ventures.”

Now in its 85th year, the Pigskin Club of Washington started out honoring excellence in football, but later evolved to more fall and winter sports, celebrating athletes and leaders on both the high school and college levels.

Recently, the organization expanded to add academic awards for high school students and special recognition to community leaders, including this year’s Award of Excellence honoree Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes and John Cotton, who was presented with the Community Service Award.

Michael T. Sharrieff, the highly successful football coach at Johnson Middle School, also received a special recognition award for the work he has done developing a nationally ranked football program in Southeast D.C.

On the athletics side, awards were presented to the high school players and coaches of the year in boys and girls cross-country, girls field hockey, boys golf, girls and boys soccer and girls volleyball.

An annual tradition is the presentation of the All-Met football team, which features the top 22 offensive and defensive seniors from the local schools. Selected from the team are the top two awards, the offensive and defensive players of the year. This year’s recipients were quarterback Roman Jensen of Maret High School and defensive linebacker Dylan Stewart of Friendship Collegiate High School.

Eric Da Silva, a cross-country boys track and field coach at Albert Einstein and DMV native was named coach of the year.

The co-high school coaches of the year were Andy Stefanelli of Good Counsel High School and Mike Hunter of Friendship Collegiate in Northeast, D.C. Stefanelli led his team to the number-one sport in the area and a national ranking and a championship of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). Hunter led his team to its second straight District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) title.

Howard University, which won in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and played in the Celebration Bowl, made a clean sweep with Larry Scott being named the Coach of the Year. Howard quarterback Quinton Williams, who went to Wise High School, and defensive back Kenny Gallop Jr. were named offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively.

Also honored were the Outstanding Professional Athletes of the Year: Dolores Elliott (Offensive) and Kuncheria Johnson (Defensive) of the D.C. Divas.

The special academic awards were divided into three categories of grade point averages (GPAs): 2.5 to 2.9, 3.0 to 3.5 and 3.5 to 4.0.

Twenty-two students were presented awards for their academic excellence.

“The reality is that many of you will not play professionally in sports,” said Bradford. “At the end of the day, you need the balance that will make you good students, good citizens, good fathers, good mothers.”

Supporting Sports and Storytelling, Keeping the Club Thriving

William Chesley, president of the Pigskin Club of Washington, said Rolark Barnes was a natural fit when considering who to honor with the “Award of Excellence.”

“When we sat down and presented nominations, Denise’s name came up,” said William Chesley, current President of the Pigskin Club. “We at the Pigskin Club are especially grateful to be the beneficiaries of the Washington Informer’s coverage over the years. It was only fitting that we pay tribute to her and the Washington Informer.”

In accepting the award, she celebrated the work of the Pigskin Club of Washington and noted her experience playing four sports at Calvin Coolidge High School. She also emphasized the importance of championing local journalism.

“It is quite an honor to receive this award,” said Rolark Barnes.  “It is so important that we support local journalists in order to tell our story about our community.”

Coach of the Year Da Silva also echoed Rolark Barnes’ sentiments.

“I am from the DMV and I agree with Denise that we continue to show support for local journalists.”

Deborah Johnson, a professor at Howard University and a member of the Pigskin Club, closed the event with a call to action to continue the organization’s longtime work and legacy.

“The Pigskin Club has been around for 85 years, and we want it to continue to honor these young student-athletes, coaches and community influencers,” said Johnson. “We need more young people, especially young women, to help us continue these efforts so that the Pigskin can continue to thrive.”

The organization will host its annual spring awards banquet in May. For more information, go to

Source: Washington Informer


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