The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) is proud to announce Don Lane, Larry Collmus, Kenneth Ramsey, Sarah Ramsey, Billy Reed and Kim Sweazy as the winners of the sixth annual Bluegrass Sports Awards presented by Alltech. The banquet will be held Feb. 1, 2017, at the Lexington Convention Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom.
“We’re excited to be celebrating our sixth year of honoring some of the finest people in sports media and business,” said BSC President and CEO Brian Miller. “Our award winners have had unparalleled success in their respected industry and are very deserving. This event has grown into one of the bigger nights celebrating the sports industry in Kentucky."
Lane is a fixture in Kentucky basketball history and has dedicated his life to the youth of central Kentucky and will receive the Jim Host Youth Sports Award. He was inducted into the Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 after a 26-year career as head coach at Transylvania, during which he racked up a 509-245 record and earned a number of accolades, including NAIA, NABC and Basketball Times National Coach of the Year in 2001, NAIA District Coach of the Year in 1993, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Kentucky College Coach of the Year three times, and coach of the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival Team. He retired in 2001 after leading the Pioneers to a No. 1 ranking in the country for the first time in school history and finishing 27-2. Lane is also a member of the Transylvania Athletic Hall of Fame and the Union College Athletic Hall of Fame.
His legacy at Transy extends even further with 41 years on the exercise science and physical education faculty and 20 years as director of athletics, serving in that position from 1976-96, during which time Transylvania doubled the number of varsity sports it offered. Also during his tenure, 92 of 97 four-year players earned their degrees. Lane also hosted over 50,000 young people at his Don Lane Basketball Camps which were among the first of its kind and drew athletes from every state in the U.S and 13 foreign countries.
“No one has connected more with youth than Don Lane,” said Host. “From the beginnings of his basketball camps for young people to a storied career as one of the all time great NAIA and NCAA Division III coaches in history at Transylvania, Don Lane has helped so many young people in the true meaning of sports. We are so happy with being able to honor him with this long overdue honor.”
Previous winners of the Youth Sports Award include Martha Layne Collins, Louis Stout, Dave Kerchner, Don Adkins and Mike Fields.
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey are the co-winners of the Jim Host Sports Business Award for 2017. They own Ramsey Farm, a 1,200-acre horse breeding operation in Nicholasville and have raced horses at tracks throughout the United States. They have multiple graded stakes winners, three Breeders' Cup winners, and the Ramseys themselves have won multiple Eclipse Awards for outstanding owner and breeder. Many of their race horses have names incorporating the word "Kitten", Kenneth's nickname for Sarah, used as the inspiration for the name of their leading stallion, Kitten's Joy, a successful racehorse on the turf.
“Our award winners have had unparalleled success in their respected industry and are very deserving. This event has grown into one of the bigger nights celebrating the sports industry in Kentucky."
When his style of racing proved unfashionable and outside breeders were reluctant to send mares to him, the Ramseys bought a herd of their own mares to breed and raced the progeny themselves with considerable success, punctuated by Ken Ramsey personally leading most of his horses into the winner's circle after their races. To further promote the stallion, most of his offspring have "Kitten" in their names and, in some cases such as Breeders' Cup winners Bobby's Kitten and Stephanie's Kitten, the Ramseys honor friends or family members by incorporating their names as well.
“For people to have excelled like Ken and Sarah Ramsey have in the thoroughbred business is like a fictional story that would become a best-selling book,” said Host. “Ken and I were in the real estate business in the 60s at the same time and no one loved being at Keeneland any more in those years than Ken. The business of sports in the Bluegrass has seen one of the greatest stories ever written with the rags to riches story of the Ramseys.”
The Ramseys join previous winners Bill Farish, Mitch Barnhart, Alan Stein, Jerry Carroll and Ted Bassett as the Jim Host Sports Business Award recipients.
Larry Collums will receive the Tom Hammond Sports Media Award which is a national award presented to a broadcaster who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the field. A native of Baltimore, Collmus has called at numerous racetracks around the country. He got his start by calling his first race at Bowie Race Track in 1985 at the age of 18. In 1985 and 1986, he served as the assistant announcer at Laurel Park, Pimlico, Bowie and Timonium Racetrack in his native Maryland. In 1987 he became the youngest announcer in the country after being named to call the races at Birmingham Turf Club in Alabama. After Birmingham, Collmus moved to California and became the announcer at Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco area, a position he held until 1991 when he moved to take over announcing duties at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Massachusetts.
Collmus' move to a major summer racing circuit occurred in 1994 when he became the announcer at Monmouth Park, host of the 2007 Breeders' Cup. After spending two years as the winter announcer at Aqueduct, he became the full-time announcer at Gulfstream Park in 2007. In 2011 he succeeded Tom Durkin as the voice of the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup broadcasts on NBC Sports. He was named track announcer at Churchill Downs beginning with the 2014 racing season. On August 13, 2014, Collmus was announced to once again succeed Tom Durkin, this time as the voice of the New York Racing Association. He began calling the races at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course in April 2015.
“Larry Collmus is regarded as one of the top horse race callers in the world,” said Hammond. “Mixing accuracy and drama, his calls of Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races are legendary.”
Collmus joins previous winners Dick Enberg, Marty Brennaman, Cris Collinsworth and Larry Conley.
The Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award goes to Billy Reed. He joins past winners Jennie Rees, Larry Vaught and Dick Gabriel, Mike Battaglia, Donna Brothers and Kenny Rice. The Mt. Sterling native has spent the better part of 40 years covering major sporting events around the country for such publications as the Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times, and the Churchill Downs website.
At age 16, Reed went to work for the Lexington Herald-Leader for a six-year span. By the time he was a senior in college, he was the assistant sports editor before moving on to an opportunity at the Courier-Journal in Louisville in 1966. Reed went on to work for Sports Illustrated in New York where he spent four years before returning to the Courier as a special projects writer. The first special project was to investigate the thoroughbred racing industry for which he received national recognition. Reed returned to sports writing and was the sports editor for the Courier from 1977-86 and was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated for 30 years. He’s worked as an adjunct professor at Indiana University and was an executive scholar in residence at Georgetown College.
The author of 13 books, Reed currently serves as the executive editor of the Catholic Sports Network. Reed is a three-time recipient of the Eclipse Award (‘79, ‘88, ‘08) and is an eight-time Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year. He received the Sigma Delta Chi national award for general reporting in 1973 and is an eight-time winner of the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby coverage. Reed is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, Transylvania University Hall of Fame, U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, and the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame.
"Billy Reed has spent his lifetime writing about sports both in our state and nationally,” said Hammond. “He has established himself as one of the most accomplished journalists in Kentucky's history."
For the third time, the BSC will also name a Volunteer of the Year. The 2017 recipient of the Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year Award is Kim Sweazy who has worked at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky since 1989 and has been named one of their top five volunteers five times and is a three-time Volunteer of the Year. Over the years, she has served as president of the Lexington Forum and as co-chair for the Susan G. Komen Pink Tie Gala. Presently, Sweazy serves on numerous community boards and committees including Leadership Lexington, Project One in Louisville, The Mitchell Family Foundation, Baptist Health Lexington, Ronald McDonald House Grants Committee and the Fayette County Schools Community Partner Leadership Team.
Kim dedicates the majority of her time and effort to the Children’s Charity Fund of the Bluegrass. She began volunteering for CCFB 15 years ago and has served as president for the past 10 years. Sweazy leads the all-volunteer organization’s fund distribution and oversees the detailed planning of the Children’s Charity Celebrity Golf Classic. This Bluegrass tradition is entering its 37th year as one of America’s most enduring celebrity golf tournaments. It hosts nearly 250 golfers on two courses and is preceded by a week of activities that include the Tee-Off Reception, Kids’ Jamboree, Junior Golf Tournament, Cabaret Dinner Show and Bid Party. Since its launch, CCFB has raised more than $11 million dollars for agencies that benefit Central Kentucky children. Last year alone, more than 35 agencies received funding from Children’s Charity Fund of the Bluegrass.
Sweazy joins Van Florence who won the honor in 2016, as well as the inaugural winner and namesake of the award, Bobby Flynn. Flynn has been a mainstay at nearly every sports venue in Lexington, including Keeneland, UK, and the Legends.
“Kim has given endlessly to this community and embodies what this award is all about,” said Miller. “There is no doubt that our community is better because of the efforts of Kim Sweazy.”
In addition to these awards, the Lexington Herald-Leader will once again present its annual Sports Figure of the Year Award live to cap off the evening.
The event will consist of a reception with award winners and keynote speakers, a sit-down dinner and awards program. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the BSC and its efforts to grow the economic impact sports tourism has on central Kentucky. Tables of 10 are available for purchase for $1,250. Individual tickets are also available for $150.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 859-286-5156 or visit us online at www.bluegrasssports.org.