In their third year, the ThisWeek Sports Awards Top Athletes banquets are being merged into one event. However, we’re not scaling back. We’re reaching the next level.

We will have a new name, a new look, a new format and a new site.

We are doing all this with the focus on giving these elite athletes and their families a better experience and the recognition they deserve.

For the last two years, there have been separate fall and spring (winter and spring athletes) banquets.

This year, there will be one banquet, the Central Ohio All Star Preps event, and we will be inviting more than 300 athletes and 29 coaches from the ThisWeek coverage area.

The banquet will be Tuesday, May 26, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St., Columbus.

And we are proud to announce that Ryan Shazier, former linebacker with Ohio State and the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be our celebrity guest speaker.

“I’m honored to be part of the first All Star Preps for Central Ohio,” Shazier said. “I know firsthand the pride and passion that the state of Ohio takes in its athletes. I look forward to hearing their stories, sharing my own and seeing them honored on the big stage.”

The announcement of the finalists from fall sports will be noon Tuesday, Dec. 10, via Facebook Live. Please go to www.facebook.com/ThisWeekSportsColumbus.

And starting in January, we’ll begin recognizing and honoring all athlete finalists from each sport in all ThisWeek editions.

“Combining our two events allows us to produce a grander event, on a much bigger scale,” said Lee Cochran, ThisWeek managing editor. “It will be a night that the athletes and their families will never forget.”

The event is sponsored by Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine, Raising Cane’s and Branch Financial.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine has been a sponsor for all previous banquets.

“The Sports Medicine team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is proud to again support the Central Ohio All Star Preps event and recognize area coaches and student-athletes in fall, winter and spring sports. The entire focus of our team is on treating injuries in student-athletes and providing services to help them prevent injury,” said Lisa Kluchurosky, service line administrator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine. “That’s why it’s so gratifying to partner with ThisWeek to honor these outstanding central Ohio young people who represent the thousands of student-athletes we care for who work so hard to excel in their respective sports.”

Raising Cane’s is a sponsor for the second time.

“Becoming a sponsor of the 2020 Central Ohio All Star Preps event was again a natural fit for Raising Cane’s,” said Eric Ongaro, president of Raising Cane’s franchisee RCO Limited. “Since arriving in central Ohio 15 years ago, we have grown to 17 area community restaurants. Each one has supported the community by hosting countless fundraisers for youth and school leagues and teams. And they’ve also become favorite gathering places for friends and families before, during and after games, matches and other scholastic activities. We’re proud to be part of each of the central Ohio communities we serve and thrilled to be an official partner of the 2020 All-Star Preps.”

Branch Financial is a first-time sponsor.

The Facebook Live show at noon Tuesday, Dec. 10, will reveal the Super 25 football team and Super 12 teams from boys soccer, girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys cross country, girls cross country, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis, the Super 8 team from field hockey and the Super 5 team from boys and girls water polo.

An Athlete of the Year and a Coach of the Year will be named in each sport.

The announcement for winter honorees will be in April and the one for spring athletes will be in May.

sports@thisweeknews.com

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