The 2024 AAASP ASPIRE Awards will be held on Sunday, October 27

The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) ASPIRE Awards (Adapted Sports Programs in Recreation and Education) honor individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions in contributing to the physical, social, and intellectual well-being of children and adolescents with physical disabilities and impairments through the power of athletics.

AAASP IS NOW ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS for THE 2024 ASPIRE AwardS !

Congratulations to our AAASP 2023 ASPIRE Award Nominees

ELI WOLFF AWARD FOR ADVOCACY
  • Belinda Cook, DeKalb Silver Streaks, DeKalb County Schools
  • GAEL (Georgia Association of Educational Leaders)Robert “Buddy” Costley, Executive Director; Zabrina Cannady, President
  • Ed Shaddix, Athletic Director (Retired), Gwinnett Heat, Gwinnett County Public Schools

COACH OF THE YEAR (VARSITY)
  • Jeremy Downing, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Stephen Roberson, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Bryan Watts, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Dr. Nicholas Griffin, West Georgia Wolverines, Troup County Schools
COACH OF THE YEAR (JUNIOR VARSITY)
  • Len Boudreaux, Gwinnett Heat, Gwinnett County Public Schools
  • Lynette Swanson, Gwinnett Heat, Gwinnett County Public Schools
  • Kelly Richburg, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
  • John Bolles, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
OUTSTANDING PROGRAM AWARD (COMMUNITY-BASED)
  • Lachi Music, Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD), New York, New York
  • Miracle League of the Okefenokee, Ware County Recreation Department, Waycross, GA
  • The Viscardi Center’s Alumni Wheelchair Basketball Coaches, Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center, Albertson, New York
  • Ed Armstrong, Quality Living Inc., Omaha, NE
OUTSTANDING PROGRAM AWARD (SCHOOL-BASED)
  • Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
    *Also honoring Dr. Sheila Cook, Area Coordinator; Trina Smith, Director of Special Education; Coach Sebastian Tillman
  • Georgia Storm, Griffin RESA (Led by Henry Co. Schools)
    *Also honoring Kelli Smith, Athletic Director, Henry Co. Schools
GAIL HENDRICK AWARD FOR VOLUNTEERISM
  • Mark Christmas, BOD Member, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Marcia Payton-Edwards, Principal, Michelle Obama STEM School, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Samuel Gonzalez, Sign Language Interpreter, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Benito Alejandro, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Tomas Guardia, DeKalb Silver Streaks, DeKalb County Schools
  • Jeff Jones, Gwinnett Heat, Gwinnett County Public Schools
  • Bobby Ryals, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Noraa Smothers, DeKalb Silver Streaks, DeKalb County Schools
SENIOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
  • Tadaisia Hillman, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Abby Simmons, West Georgia Wolverines, Troup County Schools
LESLIE SWEATMAN OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR
  • Aron Young, AAASP League
  • Willie Long, AAASP League
  • Donald Jacobs, AAASP League
MEDIA “HERO” AWARD
  • Michael Leverett, Disability Connections, Macon, GA, Houston Sharks
  • Jon Nelson, Game Correspondent & Program Host, Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB)
MOST IMPROVED ATHLETE AWARD
  • Kamari “Tank” Griffin, West GA Wolverines, Troup County Schools
  • Paul Hart, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
  • King James McMurry, DeKalb Silver Streaks, DeKalb County Schools
  • Joe Patterson, DeKalb Silver Streaks, DeKalb County Schools
  • Gary Woodruff, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
POWER CHAIR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD
  • Caleb Merriken, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
  • Ca’ron Harris, Houston Sharks, Houston Co. Schools
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD
  • Josh Cruz, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
  • Dominique Epps, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
  • Austin Thompson, West GA Wolverines, Troup County Schools
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD
  • Taylor Nation, West GA Wolverines, Troup County Schools
  • Laila Kindness, Houston Sharks, Houston Co. Schools
MALE SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD
  • Anthony Cuti, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
FEMALE SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD
  • McCarty McGraw, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County School District
  • Kila-Ray Brown, Clayton Eagles, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Ashlyn Stevens, Houston Sharks, Houston County Schools
FOUNDERS’ AWARD FOR CAREER ACHIEVEMENT OR EXTRAORDINARY SERVICE
  • Robyn Hootselle, AAASP Adapted Sports Director, GA
  • Michelle Masters, Executive Director of Adm. Services, Peach County Schools, GA
  • Billy Mitchell, Senior Creative Director, MLT Creative, Tucker, GA
  • Matt Albert, Art Director, MLT Creative, Tucker, GA
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ASPIRE Award winners are chosen through a peer-nomination process

An ASPIRE Award recognizes the significant contributions of individuals and organizations that have been central to the mission of making adapted sports programming available to children with physical disabilities. Through these programs, student athletes with physical disabilities  reap the physical, social, emotional and academic benefits of competitive athletics resulting in personal and social empowerment.

The ASPIRE Award was established to recognize those who support and advocate on behalf of adapted sports. The award showcases those who stand as role models; individuals, companies and organizations that have taken a proactive and innovative path in support of competitive sports programs for student athletes with physical disabilities.

The ASPIRE Awards Hall of Fame:

  • Jeff Battles, Advocacy Award, Muscogee Lions
  • Senator Kim Jackson, Advocacy Award, State of GA
  • Anna Henry, Coach of The Year Award, Houston County Sharks
  • Delton Schoates, Coach of The Year Award, DeKalb Silver Streaks
  • Kids Mobility Network, Community-Based Program Award, Colorado
  • Marlana Butler, Gail Hendrick Volunteerism Award, Gwinnett Heat
  • Michael Davis, Gail Hendrick Volunteerism Award, Clayton Eagles
  • Nicholas Griffin, Gail Hendrick Volunteerism Award, West GA Wolverines
  • Christa Hartman, Gail Hendrick Volunteerism Award, Houston County Sharks
  • Leon Porter*, Leslie Sweatman Official of The Year Award (*posthumously), All teams
  • Marvin James, Media "Hero" Award, WMAZ Channel 13
  • Zoey Schied, Outstanding High School Senior Athlete Award, Muscogee Lions, Muscogee County Schools
  • Elianna Stevens, Outstanding Female Athlete of The Year Award, Houston County Sharks
  • Najee Smothers, Outstanding Male Athlete of The Year Award, DeKalb Silver Streaks
  • Clayton County Eagles, School-Based Program Award
  • Mike Emery, Founder's Award, former Gwinnett County Public Schools Athletic and Activities Director
  • Harlon Matthews, Founder's Award, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Henry County Parks and Recreation
  • Ernie Yarbrough, Founder's Award, Assistant Executive Director of the Georgia High School Association, and longtime AAASP supporter
  • Carol McCullough, Founder's Award, Richmond County Schools retired teacher and AAASP Area Coordinator
  • Janie Thompson Avant, Founder's Award, retired Gwinnett County Public Schools teacher to special needs populations, former Paralympic coach and founder of the Atlanta Disabled Sports Foundation

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