The USA TODAY’s High School Sports Awards, the largest high school sports recognition program in the country, will celebrate the very best in high school sports during a celebrity packed national awards show that will debut at 6 p.m. MST, Thursday, Aug. 5.
The show will be hosted by the legendary television personality, journalist and former professional football player Michael Strahan and his co-host, NFL tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rob Gronkowski. The programming will include features on two young female athletes from Dickinson High School’s Midgets sports program.
The event will stream and be free to watch on the USA TODAY website.
The awards, which will feature 25 sports with a finalist from every state, will feature Amy Fridely, a phenom in multiple sports; and Paige Balliet, a stand-out softball player that helped lead her team to a state title, as representatives of the Western Edge of North Dakota on the national stage.
“When I found out I was really surprised and honored to have that,” Balliet said. “A lot of people surrounding me were really proud of me, too; and It is just a pretty amazing feeling and unbelievable.”
Balliet, an outfielder for the Dickinson Midgets first state-winning softball team, has donned the Black and Orange since seventh grade and crowned her senior season with a state title. Balliet’s accomplishments off the field as a leader for the team matched her on-field performance for an accumulated 42 RBIs, 45 runs, two homers, with 19 putouts on the year.
”It was a big thing winning with my team, with people I have grown up playing softball with,” Balliet said “With those people and everything I have accomplished at the end of my season, I think that was the biggest thing for me.”
Fridley, the multi-sport phenom who was also part of the record-setting state title softball team, will be receiving recognition for her winning season in gymnastics. Fridley and her teammates have held the state title for six consecutive seasons. Fridley led the Midget team and was the all-around state champion with a combined score of 38.400.
“State and individual day was an amazing experience. Individual day, after I hit everything, in the back of my head I'm thinking, ‘I just won state.’ I just started crying,” Fridley said. “Just knowing you worked so hard to get there and you have so many people who helped you get there. It is really an amazing feeling.”
Fridley has been competing with the Midgets since seventh grade, but has been training since first grade. A vocal advocate of doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time, even when no one is watching has helped mold her team into championship caliber. Fridley expressed her own gratitude for the coaching staff she has worked with over the years, including legendary gymnastics coach Kent Van Ellis.
“Our coaching staff is really great, and I am very thankful for them… Our program is really growing with (head coach Casey Berry) here and Mr. V left a huge legacy for Casey to hold onto.”
Nominees selected for the USA TODAY’s High School Sports Awards were chosen through a statistical analysis and performance evaluation composed of the winning Athletes of the Year from USA TODAY statewide award programs. The show is being presented by the U.S. Polo Association, with support and sponsorship by Kohl's and Wilson.
A who’s who of professional sports athletes will be on hand to honor the nominees and winners, in a night highlighting the very best in high school athletics.