By Mikayla Mustard
Available to all student-athletes April 20, the Youngstown State University Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards, otherwise known as the YESPY’s, have made a comeback.
The student-athlete awards event was put on pause for the past couple years because of COVID-19 restrictions, but now it is making a comeback.
The YESPY’s ceremony recognizes every team with awards, a social hour dedicated for games and photo opportunities on the red carpet, food and much more.
This fifth-annual event will take place in Beeghly Center, hosting over 400 student-athletes in attendance.
Jordan Evans, a senior on the women’s soccer team, said she’s excited the YESPY’s have returned for her last year. Evans is a member of YSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and helped plan the banquet.
“It is a chance for all of us to get together and celebrate our success from the season and all the hard work we put into our sport,” Evans said.
Hosted by the YSU SAAC, this event is structured similarly to the ESPN Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards ceremony. It’s a chance for student-athletes to dress up and enjoy a night at the end of the semester celebrating their seasons coming to an end and their hard work.
Past awards given out include Best Leader, Rookie of the Year, Best Performer, Best Sportsmanship and Standout Athlete of the Year.
The student-athletes plan, organize and set up the entire event. The staff only assists by providing a location and catering.
When COVID-19 closed down campus in spring 2020, the YESPY’s hadn’t yet taken place. Current sophomore and junior student-athletes have never experienced the event.
Mackenzie Scott, senior on the track & field and cross country teams, said the YESPY’s were the highlight of her freshman year. Now, in her last year, she’s excited they’re back.
“It is so fun to dress up really fancy and take pictures with our teammates and laugh and just relax during a stressful time of the year,” Scott said. “It is a nice bonding experience for not only our sport, but all of our sports as a whole.”
On the other side of the spectrum, freshman soccer player Rachel Austin said she has no idea what to expect from the YESPY’s.
“As someone who has never attended the YESPY’s, I am really excited that for the first time since COVID, all of the student-athletes are able to come together to celebrate all of the successes on and off the field we’ve all had,” Austin said. “Without knowing what to expect, I am most excited for the environment of it all.”
All student-athletes were sent an email from IC senior associate athletic director Rebecca Fink on how to sign up. Attendance is mandatory for student-athletes unless there are class conflicts.
The event takes place at 5:30 p.m. April 20 in Beeghly Center.