Like all things affected by COVID-19 over the past two years, The Pigskin Club of Washington, DC faced the same serious challenges.
But organizations with a strong foundation strive and survive despite those challenges. And so, the organization held its 81st annual awards banquet Friday, May 20, at the Pryzbyla Center on the campus of Catholic University.
The Pigskin Club of Washington was founded by Charles B. Fisher, a former standout football player at Howard University, who conceived of the idea and with some of his colleagues, formed the organization which would honor the achievements of athletes and coaches in competitive sports. That was in 1938 and since that time, the organization has grown into one of the most respected of its kind in the country.
The organization has now evolved to the point where it not only honors the All Met High school athletes and coaches in various sports and college coaches and players of the year. It now honors community leaders who provide meaningful services to the local community.
This year’s recipients included: Dr. Ronald L. Watson, Maryland State senator for the 23rd legislative district, who received the 2021 Community Service Person of the Year Award for 2021; and Luqman Abdus Sabour, named the 2022 Community Service Person of the Year for his program, B.R.I.D.G.E.S, a community-based program in Southeast.
Abdus Sabour founded the program in 2015 in honor of his late father and the elders and it provides essential services to the community including the Food in the Hood program – a back-to-school program that distributes book bags and school supplies, drug and gang intervention and free haircuts to residents on Sunday.
“It is an honor to receive this prestigious award from the Pigskin Club of Washington, DC,” Abdus Sabour said. “Although it is a sports organization, it says a lot about what they do by honoring individuals and programs that are making a difference in their communities.”
This year’s presentation was unique in that it combined the fall and spring sports during on ceremony. It featured the All Met football team, All Met boys and girls basketball teams, swim teams and cross country and track and field team along with coaches and players of the year in girls field hockey, volleyball, boys and girls soccer. Several of the high school athletes also received academic awards for their success in the classroom.
KJ Winston from DeMatha Catholic High School, who is headed to Penn State, was the football player of the year while Gia Cooke of Bishop McNamara and Knasir “Dug” McDaniel of Paul VI were named girls and boys basketball players of the year, respectively. Cooke will be attending the University of Maryland next year while McDaniel, an outstanding two-sports athlete, will be attending the University of Michigan on a basketball scholarship in the fall.
For Pat Ward and Robert Harris, who were named co-coaches of the year, the honor had special meaning.
Ward led the Cadets to a 10-0 record and the WCAC title and a national ranking.
“This is all very surreal for me,” said Ward, who played his prep ball at St. Johns and his college ball at Maryland. “To receive this award is truly special. I was actually here receiving an honor as a player by the Pigskin Club and now here I am receiving an honor for coaching. It is a humbling experience.”
Harris is also an alum of the team he coaches. He led the Carroll Lions to a 13-1 record, the best record in 35 years and the DCSAA state championship.
“When I was honored by the Pigskin Club my senior year, I felt that I should have been the player of the year,” he shared. “But to be here and receive this honor is a great feeling.”
On the college side, Bowie State head football coach Daman Wilson was named the College coach of the year and Bowie State players Ja’rome Johnson and Joshua Pryor, were named offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively. Wilson was honored for leading the Bulldogs to their third CISAA title in a row and a Super Regional Division 2 final for the first time in school history.
Ty Grace of Howard was named the Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year after leading the Bison to the MEAC title and a first-ever trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Shaun Kupferberg of Howard was named the College Volleyball Coach of the Year after guiding his team to its sixth MEAC title in seven years and an NCAA berth.
Nic Askew, the head swimming and diving coach and head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Howard, received a special honor for his accomplishments in swimming and diving.
Other awardees included Jahmal Harvey, named outstanding Boxer of the Year and his coach, Darnell Davis as Boxing Coach of the Year for the third straight time; DC Divas, the Washington Professional football team with Lexie Floor and Genaya Davis as offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively; Vinna Freeman, educator and pioneer in women sports; and Brian J. Thomas, James V. Jackson and Paul Artisst, who were inducted into the Pigskin Club Hall of Fame.