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Our Opinion: The Times honors local athletes

As a community, Demopolis and Marengo County take great pride in their youth &8212; especially in their athletic accomplishments.

When sports editor Jeremy D. Smith came forward with the idea to honor one of the county&8217;s student-athletes at the end of the academic year, area coaches embraced the idea with open arms.

Young men and women from Marengo County often seem to get overlooked when it comes to statewide awards. Sure, there are teams that have a measure of success. Demopolis won a 4A football state championship in 2004, and Sweet Water has won three of the last four 1A state football titles. But those accomplishments are largely ignored outside the Black Belt area.

Student-athletes from Demopolis and Marengo County often go on to compete at the collegiate level in many different sports. This year is no different. There are many standouts &8212; from Sweet Water&8217;s Anthony Landrum to Linden High&8217;s Sean Richardson.

But the biggest standout of the year has to be a young woman from Demopolis High School. Jasmine Simmons is The Demopolis Times Athlete of the Year not because she stood out in one sport &8212; but because she stood out in them all. Simmons was a formidable presence in volleyball, basketball and softball.

Because of her all-around skill, attitude and the respect she earned on the field, Jasmine Simmons earned her place at the head of the athletic table in Marengo County.

It would seem unusual for a girl as unassuming &8212; as humble &8212; as Simmons to win this award. An athlete of the year award is often the purview of young men. But as Bob Dylan sang so eloquently &8212; the times, they are a-changin&8217;. Simmons proved over the course of her career she could play with &8212; or against &8212; anyone of any gender.

Simmons, and the rest of the nominees, should be congratulated for their recognition. These young men and women have represented their schools, their peers and their communities well. Congratulations all.