Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Loaded Field for a High Honor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Loaded Field for a High Honor

Article excerpt

The end of each year brings award season and none handed out in the region are more prestigious than the Dapper Dan Charities Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the year award.

The awards annually go to the male and female athlete, coach or team that bring the most recognition to Western Pennsylvania and is voted on by fans as well as Dapper Dan's executive committee. The list of former winners reads like a who's who of Pittsburgh's greatest athletes. And looking at this year's nominees on both sides there are going to be some big names honored regardless of who ultimately gets the most votes.

The nominees for the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year are Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald, Pirates All Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Steelers tight end Heath Miller, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Penn State coach Bill O'Brien.

WNBA and former McKeesport standout Swin Cash headlines the group of nominees for Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year and she is joined by Olympic volleyball player Christa Harmotto, Olympic diver Cassidy Krug and Penn State soccer player Taylor Schram.

The nominees all have distinguished themselves in some way in 2012 and have excelled at their chosen sport.

Donald, who is from Penn Hills, may have been the best defensive lineman in the Big East and was a first team all-conference selection for the second consecutive season. He led the Big East in tackles for loss (18.5) and also registered 63 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.

The Pirates captivated Pittsburgh fans and were the talk of baseball by contending into August. A big reason for that was the play of McCutchen, who led the National League with 194 hits and finished second in the batting race with a .327 average.

He also made the National League All-Star team , won a Gold Glove and finished third in MVP balloting and hit 31 home runs, drove in 96 runs and scored 107 runs.

Malkin was an NHL All Star and won the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) as well as the Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) as he scored 50 goals and registered 59 assists for a total 109 points last season. He also had nine game-winning goals and registered a league-high 339 shots on goal.

Miller is known as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL and has been throughout his career, but this season he has added another dimension to his game as he is the Steelers leading receiver. He has caught 61 passes, seven for touchdowns, and he is the Steelers all-time leader in receptions by a tight end with 398.

Penn State's program was an absolute mess last year and into this year in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the firing and subsequent death of legendary coach Joe Paterno and the NCAA bringing the hammer down on the program in the form of harsh sanctions.

But O'Brien proved to be the perfect man to navigate the program and university through the choppy waters and bring dignity, respect and character back all in a matter of a year. …

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