West Feliciana High’s Jazz Ferguson and St. Amant High’s Kara Gremillion attend schools located in different metro Baton Rouge area parishes and compete in sports on different classifications.
The two juniors rarely had a day off from either practice or games during the 2013-14 school year. But on one of those rare off nights the two multi-sport standouts ultimately shared the spotlight, winning top honors at The Advocate’s 29th annual Athlete of the Year/Star of Stars banquet.
Ferguson was announced as the Boys Athlete of the Year, while Gremillion took home the Girls Athlete of the Year honor at the event held Wednesday night at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association office complex.
“My coach and my Mom knew about this, but they never told me until earlier this week,” Ferguson said. “The whole ride here, and it was about an hour, I was nervous and thinking about it a lot.
“It means so much to win an award like this. It makes me believe the hard work really does pay off.”
In addition to honoring the Athlete of the Year winners and four other Athlete of the Year finalists, The Advocate also honored the Star of Stars in a total of 15 other high school sports during its banquet.
“During the season I focus on what our team is going to do and not what I can get out of it,” Gremillion said. “I was pretty excited and honestly, I was happy with being a finalist. I was just going to be happy to be here and get recognized.”
Ferguson, an LSU football commitment, excelled in football, basketball, track and field and baseball. He claimed the top award voted on by the Advocate sports staff over two other finalists he knew well, seniors Redemptorist’s Russell Gage and Nicholaus Parker of Port Allen.
Gremillion, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette softball commitment, was an All-Metro player in three sports, softball, volleyball and basketball. She knew something about the senior finalists, because both Baton Rouge High track star Mikiah Brisco and McKinley’s Rondolyn Bryant, also were volleyball players in her district. Brant also was a basketball rival.
Ferguson and Gage, an LSU football signee, could line up together as Tigers.
“The guy from Redemptorist … I saw him all the time on TV when they showed highlights last fall,” Ferguson said. “And I know we’ll be together at LSU. Nick Parker and I competed against each other in basketball and track and his team beat us to win the district title in track. I knew they were both good.”
Interestingly, both Ferguson and Gremillion had recent Athlete of the Year winners to cite as examples. Current Southern University women’s basketball player Britney Washington was the Girls Athlete winner for West Feliciana in 2012; another St. Amant competitor, Toni Rodriguez, won the girls award last spring.
“When Toni won it last year she played three sports and I knew I played three sports, so I thought there was a chance I’d be considered,” Gremillion noted. “But I didn’t think much about it after last spring.
Like Ferguson, Gremillion put thoughts of awards aside while competing in back-to-back seasons.
Ferguson admitted he was a little down after the Saints lost to Brusly in the Class 3A baseball quarterfinals. He went to the gym and played basketball. And he attended the final two spring football practices before scoring two touchdowns in WFHS’ spring game three days after the baseball loss.
Gremillion also continued to work after St. Amant lost in the Class 5A softball quarterfinals earlier this month. She didn’t take a day off until this week.
“There are always things you can work on to get better,” Gremillion said as she gazed around the LHSAA meeting room not long after the other finalists had departed. “I still in shock that I won it.”