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Cleveland Sports Awards Set To Honor Area's Best

In a year of ups and downs in Northeast Ohio sports, it's refreshing anytime you can honor individual achievements. The Greater Cleveland Sports Awards do just that. At a ceremony at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel, terrific athletes and contributors to the sports scene in Cleveland will be recognized. Events include:

Dinner, sports celebrities and silent auctions that help benefit the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. ESPN broadcaster Mike Tirico will be the emcee.

The big award is Professional Athlete of the Year, which will be between Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs and Shin-Soo Choo. Depending on the qualifications of the award, each can make their case to deserve the honor. Cribbs and Thomas are both great representatives in the community and Thomas had a good season on the field as well. Choo had the best season of the three, however, performance-wise. If I was a betting man, I would put good money on Thomas winning the award.

Athletes of the Year will also be recognized at the amateur, high school and collegiate levels, including players like QB Ricky Stanzi of Iowa, the National Champion Akron soccer team (a shoe-in to win the college award, in my opinion), Ohio State-bound Cardale Jones of Glenville, USA Track and Field's Jessica Beard and hockey player Kelli Stack.

There will also be additional awards and recognitions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Cleveland Clinic Health Courage Award. All of the nominees were selected by members of the media in Northeast Ohio.

This is a terrific organization and a good chance to reflect on sports in Cleveland at all levels. Despite the cold weather and the underachieving professional teams, it's always nice to feel the warmth of an event like this.

For more information, head to the Greater Cleveland Sports Comission website or Cleveland.com/sportsawards.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.