Press, Hobbs, Hickey pick up major LSWA awards

By Special to the American Press

NATCHITOCHES — The American Press sports staff picked up two of the major awards in the annual Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association contest.

The American Press was judged the best sports section in Class II, while Scooter Hobbs was judged the state’s Columnist of the Year.

The staff had two of the top-three in the prestigious columnist award as Jim Gazzolo finished third.

Overall, the staff won 14 awards, including five first-places. Class II includes all of the state’s newspapers except those

in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Hobbs also won first place in pro

columns and he had a second-place in prep features along with a third

place in amateur columns.

Staff writer Alex Hickey had two first places, one in pro features for a story on former McNeese and NFL great Tom Sestak,

and in pro game story for his account of the Saints-Lions playoff game in January of 2012.

Hickey had two third places — in college game story for his account of the McNeese-Central Arkansas football game and in college

features for his story on Cowboy javelin thrower Ben Chretien.

Gazzolo had two other third-places and a

second-place entry. He finished second in college game story for

coverage of last

season’s LSU-Alabama football game, while the third-place awards

were in prep event for a follow-up on Barbe’s miracle victory

over West Monroe and for college column for analysis of troubled

LSU star Tyrann Mathieu’s second chance.

The American Press’ managing editor, Bobby Dower, had a second-place entry in amateur column for his Father’s Day tribute.

Hobbs’ other awards were in prep

feature for a story on former Barbe coach Jimmy Shaver watching the Bucs

finally make the

Superdome Classic, and in amateur column for a look at the Wounded

Warriors softball team that played in Sulphur last July.

The judges said, “This paper does its

sports coverage with strong visual appeal, effectively using big

impactful art and headlines.

The staff did a great job in pouring its resources into reporting

the BCS ‘Rematch of the Century’ .... well packaged inside

pages and thoughtful use of color.”

Hobbs won the Columnist of the Year award for the ninth time in the last 14 years.

“Good voice, very conversational, but also writes with authority,” the judges said of Hobbs’ style. “A gifted writer who is

also in touch with the readers, as displayed by timely cultural references. A pleasure to read.”

For his first-place pro column, the

judges said, “Strong account of the Saints’ punishment for the bounty

scandal, especially

comparing the feel of their Super Bowl run to a college team and

how the NFL penalized them for something you normally hear

from the NCAA — lack of institutional control.

“Great line: ‘Too much money and too much testosterone went together like fleur and de lis.’ ”

Hickey’s story on Sestak was described as, “Almost a documentary-like feature.”

“This was more than a trip down memory

lane,” the judges continued. “It was reintroducing an audience to a

significant historical

figure that got lost in history.”

Hickey’s game story on the Saints-Lions playoff game was judged as “Solid. It’s well-organized for the most part.”