Niceville Athletes Clean Up At All Sports Award Ceremony

🏆 Niceville athletes shine at the All Sports Association Banquet! From college football dedication to lacrosse prowess, and NFL success, meet the outstanding individuals who earned well-deserved honors.

The All Sports Association had its annual banquet tonight – where they awarded Georgia Wide Receiver Ladd McConkey its Danny Wuerffel Trophy. The trophy honors a college football player who has displayed a dedication to community service. 

The All Sports Association awards many other athletes – pro, amateur and collegiate for their efforts on the field and off. 

That includes The Thomas brothers (Juanyeh and Azareye’h) Garrison LeMire, Blake Orr, Shane Patty and Lilliana Fernandez – six Niceville High School Alums (or soon-to-be-alums). 

Garrison LeMire – Niceville Lacrosse’s Taylor Haugen Trophy Recipient

LeMire, a senior lacrosse player named the Taylor Haugen Trophy winner, will attend Texas A&M in the fall after graduating. The midfielder for the Eagles boasts a strong GPA and plenty of community service in Niceville. 

 

The Niceville Lacrosse team is off to a start that builds perseverance. After two dominant wins over Brother Martin (LA) and Navarre High Schools, the Eagles dropped a close matchup to St. Thomas More (LA) and a 9-2 loss to perennial rivals South Walton. “We’re off to a little bit of a rocky start,” LeMire said, “We’ve got grit. I think we still have a really good season in store for us.”

 

LeMire is the third Niceville High School Student to win the trophy. Football player Eric Trapp won the award in 2022 and fellow football player Tyler Russell won the award in 2016.

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Liliana Fernandez – Female Collegiate Athlete Award Winner

Lilliana Fernandez, one of the trio of Fernandez sisters who played soccer at the University of Tulsa after their time in Niceville, received an award for her achievements as a female collegiate athlete during her five seasons as a Golden Hurricane. 

She hopes to join her sister, Kayla, in Liga MX Feminil (the women’s soccer league in Mexico) after she graduates from Tulsa this summer. While nothing is guarenteed in life, she hopes she will get the opportunity to play with her twin sister again. 

Kayla plays for Atlas FC – currently in 12th of 18 teams in the league. She earned her first start for the team in January. 

“I’m hoping to join her down there,” Fernandez said, “I don’t know if it’ll be at Atlas, it could be at one of the other teams. That is my plan – the eventually head down there (to Mexico) in the summer and play for one of the teams down there.”

Juanyeh Thomas – Professional Athlete Award Winner

Juanyeh Thomas, a defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys, talked with us about his personal life and what it means to be back here with his brother Azareye’h (The Male Collegiate Award Winner for the All Sports Association), getting through mental health struggles in college and his mother. 

 

Thomas made appearances in five games for the Cowboys in the 2023 season – wrapping up 14 solo tackles on the field. 

 

 

The previous Male Collegiate Athlete award winner credits his mother for instilling in him the toughness and determination that allowed him to make it to the league as an undrafted free agent – and step on the field with the best players in the game. “Being the son of my mom – I am the son of a person that busted her tail for us as a single parent,” Thomas said, “Watching that made me want to be the man that I am today. It pushed me to be the man that I am today.”

 

He says coach Adron Robinson of the Niceville Football and Flag Football teams supported him and his family through the tough times. “He allowed me to be me,” Thomas said with a smile, “Coach Adron was always there for me. He took me to my [college] visits, reaching out to coaches – being there for my mom, being there for [Azareye’h] when I left for college.”

 

Finally, Thomas talked about his struggles with mental health. Struggles that took him away from football for a brief period his senior year. He encourages people who struggle with their mental health – especially college athletes – to reach out for help. “College is tough. Playing sports and going to school and having to deal with the whole world – it’s tough,” Thomas said, “I don’t want kids to think there is no one there for them – because there are people who will listen. In the moment, it may not feel like it, but there are people who will listen to you – and I’m one of them.”

 

Azareye’h Thomas – Male Collegiate Athlete Award Winner

Juanyeh’s little brother, Azareye’h Thomas, followed in his big brother’s footsteps and claimed the Male Collegiate Athlete Award for his standout performance at Florida State this past year. 

The defensive back helped the ‘Noles go undefeated in the regular season. 

 

Thomas looks forward to next season, but he has a mature view of the sport and his priorities in life. “I look forward to getting better with my teammates. [I’m] trying to not be obsessed with with the outcome, but enjoy the process with my teammates,” Thomas said, “Football is not our identity. It’s what we do, it’s not who we are. I try to remind them of that. There is freedom in knowing that.”

We asked him about the new NCAA Football game (which this author has pined for almost a decade to have back). He’s going to opt in to the game – and he could care less about the $600 that comes along with it. “It’s every kid’s dream,” Thomas said, “I’ve been playing that since I was little. I grew up on that. Just knowing that I could be in the game – I could care less about the money, I just want to be in the game. If I opted out, I would be doing a disservice to all of those little kids that would kill to be in the game.”

Shane Patty Named Special Olympics Athlete of the Year

Niceville Alumni Shane Patty was named the Special Olympics Athlete of the year by the All Sports Association – and was one of six total Niceville High School Students or Alumni who were awarded at the All Sports Association Banquet. 

Patty, currently studies communications as a student at the University of West Florida. In his spare time, he serves at the public address announcer for the Northwest Florida State College Baseball Team. 

“I was absolutely shocked because I had no idea that I was about to get selected. And then I’m like, wow, that is like a lot to accomplish. I mean, that’s a great feat right there for me,” Shane said about his selection .”

Blake Orr

Niceville High School Graduate Blake Orr, a Team USA and Florida International University javelin thrower was the final Niceville Eagle to receive an award at the All Sports Association banquest February 23.

Orr, a rising Sophomore at FIU, placed fifth at the Conference USA Track and Field outdoor championships last spring. 

Blake Orr, a javeline thrower from Niceville
Rising Sophomore at FIU and Niceville Eagle Alum Blake Orr was honored by the All Sports Association for his accomplishments in Track and Field.
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