An unforeseen scheduling conflict has forced a slight change in programming at the inaugural All-Ellis County prep sports banquet.
It also comes with additional excitement for the first-of-its-kind gala and celebration in the county.
The Daily Light Media Group, the publisher of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror, first announced plans to recognize the top high school athletes in the county on June 11 at the Waxahachie Civic Center in late December. In March, the staff then excitedly announced the keynote speaker as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.
However, the NFL and Dallas Cowboys announced in April that the club's mandatory offseason mini-camp would be held June 11-13, meaning Lee would be unavailable to attend the inaugural All-Ellis County prep sports banquet that Tuesday.
So what did we do? Book a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.
The Daily Light Media Group is ecstatic to announce 2017 MLB Hall of Fame inductee Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez as the special celebrity guest for the fast-approaching All-Ellis County prep sports banquet.
"While we are saddened that Sean Lee cannot attend the event, we do understand his obligations to the Dallas Cowboys and his teammates," said Colten Crist with the Daily Light Media Group. "But to say we are anything less than elated to bring Pudge Rodriguez to Ellis County would be an understatement. We cannot wait to celebrate with our exceptional student-athletes, sponsors, community and Mr. Rodriguez on June 11."
Hailing from Manati, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez finished his hall-of-fame career with a positional record 13 Gold Gloves during his 21 seasons and 2,543 games behind the plate.
Rodriguez was named the American League MVP in 1999 after hitting .332 with 116 runs scored, 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases. He was selected to 14 All-Star games, holds the major league record for games caught with 2,427 and his 12,376 putouts are the most all-time by a catcher.
He won a World Series for the then-Florida-now-Miami Marlins in 2003.
According to Baseball Reference, Rodriguez is one of six players in Major League Baseball history with a minimum .295 average, 2,800 hits, 550 doubles, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBIs over a career. He holds that honor alongside fellow MLB Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, George Brett, Stan Musial and eventual-hall-of-famer Albert Pujols.
Rodriguez spent 12-plus seasons with the Texas Rangers.
In addition to being inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame, the club also retired his No. 7 in 2017.
Rodriguez is currently a Rangers pre- and post-game analyst for Fox Sports Southwest. He also released an autobiography, "They Call Me Pudge: My Life Playing the Game I Love," with the help of Jeff Sullivan in 2017.
Rodriguez is very active in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Puerto Rican communities through the Ivan Pudge Rodriguez Foundation and the United Way.
As for the All-Ellis County prep sports banquet, awards will be presented to the Player of the Year in each sport, as well as the countywide Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year. All 300-plus of the All-Ellis County selected athletes will be invited to attend this special awards event for free thanks to the generous support of community sponsors.
Methodist Midlothian Medical Center will serve as the title sponsor for the event. Community partners for the event currently include Red Oak ISD, Waxahachie ISD, Carlisle Chevrolet Buick GMC and Hardesty Law Office, PLLC, while table sponsors are Pearman Oil & L.P. Gas, Inc., David Hill Custom Homes, LIfe School, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP and Midlothian Chamber of Commerce.
"We are delighted to honor the area's top high school athletes after a successful season of hard work and dedication," said Juan Fresquez, president of Methodist Midlothian and Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. "As a member of the Midlothian community and leading healthcare provider in the Ellis County region, Methodist is proud to provide our athletes and community with exceptional health care. We know what it takes to be the best of the best and we commend the efforts of these athletes in Ellis County who work hard and put forth the effort in becoming the best in their respective sports."
The yearlong celebration of athletic achievements will culminate at the 2019 All-Ellis County All-Star Preps awards banquet to be held from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 at the Waxahachie Civic Center. The evening will celebrate the accomplishments of more than 300 county athletes and coaches across 19 sports and 15 campuses.
Awards will be presented to the Player of the Year in each sport, as well as the countywide Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year and a special award for a member of the athletic community who has shown great courage beyond the playing lines.
The sports from which All-Ellis County teams are selected include football, volleyball, boys' and girls' basketball, boys' and girls' soccer, baseball and softball. State qualifiers and selected outstanding performers in all other individual sports will also be invited to attend courtesy of our sponsors.
General admission tickets may be purchased for $60. A general admission ticket includes dinner, awards ceremony, and presentation by Rodriguez.
General admission seating is first come, first served in proximity to the speaker. General public tickets will go on sale at a later date after the All-Ellis County athletes and their guests have reserved their tickets. Seating is limited.
Ticketing or general questions related to the selection process can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Colten Crist at (469) 517-1440 or email@example.com.
More information about the event can be found by visiting WaxahachieTX.com/preps.