Heritage High School finds fun way to celebrate sports


Timberwolves went with a video production for its annual awards show

For a few years now, many local high schools have been producing awards shows specifically for athletics.

A full stage performance like any awards show, only this would be for best athlete, best scholar athlete, best team, and best moment, and so on and so on … 

Skyview invited this reporter for a special night a few years ago. (Thanks Storm!) 

Heritage has had a sports-specific awards night on its stage for the past three years.

With the state’s stay-at-home order in effect, with no school, Heritage made it four years in a row, but with an entirely different way to celebrate its athletes.

The HESPYS, a take-off of ESPN’s ESPYS, were announced Saturday via a video created by Derek Garrison, the principal at Heritage, with the help of many, many others. Garrison and Justin Tanner, an associate principal, hosted the show: https://youtu.be/7ZCkFswG2TY

The half-hour “broadcast” had a lot of fun moments, and some make-believe. 

It opened with a Star Wars-like scroll:

“Episode IV, the Virtual HESPYS”

With strange, “whack and cray times upon us, famous people from the world of sports were called … to help us look back virtually on the year of athletics at Heritage.”

No, Michael Jordan was really there.

But the video did highlight a couple real names in the sports world. 

Seattle Seahawks defensive back Quandre Diggs gave a video shout-out to the Timberwolves.

Garrison interviewed sports broadcaster Kristine Leahy, who gave advice to athletes, shared some fun stories, and even questioned the Timberwolves mascot.

That part of the video would have been the equivalent of a guest speaker at a typical awards banquet.

“He took a shot in the dark and got in touch with her publicist,” said Erik Gonzalez, Heritage’s athletic director, referring to Garrison’s interview. “She said, ‘Sure, I’ve got time.’”

Leahy went to a high school with Wolves as the mascot. Garrison asked her who would win in a battle, the Wolves or the Timberwolves. Leahy went with her school, naturally, noting that she is not really sure what a timberwolf is, and called it a knock-off of the real thing.

That could have been fighting words, but Garrison did not take the bait, graciously letting the comment slide. 

Representatives of the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Army gave video presentations for some of the awards, as well.

And there was some sort of bracket tournament featuring fun moments of coaches cooking or trying to decide what to eat while staying at home, as well as a dog being a dog. 

Gonzalez said all involved would have preferred a chance to get together in person. But if it couldn’t happen, this was the next best thing.

Gonzalez announced many of the winners. But he never saw the finished product until it debuted Saturday.

“It felt like making a movie,” Gonzalez said. “Doing different scenes, out of order, then editing it all together. Then you have the finished product.” 

Katie Peneueta won for Best Individual Performance for her volleyball season. The football team took home Game of the Year with its win over Evergreen. And the Team of the Year is the volleyball squad for its victory over Union to qualify for the bi-district tournament. Those are just three of the many awards announced.

Not the same as a traditional show, but nothing is normal these days when it comes to end-of-year ceremonies. 

This is just one example of school trying to make the best of it. 

The video concluded with this message:

“To our student athletes, we love you, we miss you, and we hope you’re staying hungry. We don’t know when, but it’ll happen. Be ready.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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