WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly will be the featured guest speaker at the inaugural Best of StarNewsVarsity awards dinner on June 20 and will help StarNews Media honor top high school athletes from across Southeastern North Carolina.
“I’m excited to come to Wilmington and honor the outstanding accomplishments of the Best of StarNewsVarsity Preps student athletes,” Kuechly said. “I’m sure the night will be memorable for all, and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
StarNews Media’s high school sports awards celebrates the accomplishments of every All-Area athlete as well as names the overall male and female athletes of the year in each sport.
“StarNews Media has a long tradition of honoring our high school athletes and their accomplishments,” said StarNews publisher Mike Distelhorst. “Best of StarNewsvarsity is sure to take that recognition to a new level.”
Presented by StarNews Media and sponsored by Carolina Sports Medicine and New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the event honors the top athletes from 21 sports played in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender as well as parts of Columbus, Bladen and Duplin counties. Awards also will be presented to the Outstanding Player of the Year in each sport, as well as Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year, among others. Best of StarNewsVarsity athletes are invited to attend for free and the event is open to family, friends and the general public.
Laurie Mays, executive director of Carolina Sports Medicine, said she was honored to sponsor this inaugural event. “We work very closely with area high schools, athletes, coaches and trainers and are proud to see these people recognized in such a meaningful way for their efforts,” she said.
“We are proud to work with the StarNews on this event, and we thank them for focusing on the health and sportsmanship of young athletes in our community,” said NHRMC director of marketing Martha Harlan. “As one of the largest employers and the leading provider of health care in Southeastern North Carolina, New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s mission is to Lead Our Community to Outstanding Health, and supporting these athletes and their commitment to physical activity is an important part of helping others stay healthy.”
Luke Kuechly is widely considered one of the most dominant linebackers in the NFL today. Kuechly was selected ninth overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2012 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he led the NFL in tackles, and again in 2014, and he set a Panthers team record for number of tackles. He is an NFL Defensive Player of the Year and four-time Pro Bowler, including a selection in 2015 when he led the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50. Most recently, Kuechly was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award, an annual award presented to selected players in the NFL, who are voted for by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage.
“Personally, I am a huge fan of Luke,” said StarNews Executive Editor Pam Sander. “We have at least one No. 59 jersey in the house. He embodies what Best of StarNewsVarsity is all about. He gives 200 percent on the field, and off the field, he’s a great citizen.”
Sander said she’s proud to be able to honor these players with a celebration they’ll remember.
“As the parent of a former high school athlete, I know how much they and their families give of themselves every day,” she said. “I know the lasting impact this grand celebration will have on their lives.”
Luke Kuechly’s appearance is sponsored by CPI Security Systems.
“We’re very excited to support the Best of Preps event this year in Wilmington and of course, Luke Kuechly,” said Ken Gill, President and CEO of CPI Security. “When we formed the relationship with Luke three years ago, we knew it would be a natural fit because of his dedication to his profession and to the success of our long-time partner, the Carolina Panthers. Luke has proven to be the best defensive player in the league and CPI strives to provide the best defense to homes and businesses. It just works. Luke is an outstanding role model for the young people attending the event.”
The Best of StarNewsVarsity awards banquet will be 6-9 p.m. June 20 at the Wilmington Convention Center. General admission tickets may be purchased for $50. General admission tickets include the dinner, awards ceremony and presentation by Luke Kuechly.
Find out more information about the event, and a link to purchase tickets, at BestofStarNewsVarsity.com. Fall All-Area athletes will receive a letter within the next few weeks with instructions on how to claim their free ticket; winter and spring All-Area athletes will receive their letters soon after.
For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact the StarNews Media events division at (910) 343-2015.