2020 Semoball Awards will be 'different,' but still a 'great show'

People gather for the 2019 Semoball Awards last July at the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus.
Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missourian

Each year the Semoball Awards recognizes outstanding high school athletes from around the region. That tradition continues this summer albeit in a different format because of lingering COVID-19 concerns and social distancing requirements.

Instead of gathering at the River Campus, attendees will be able to watch the event for free at 7 p.m. on July 11 from the comfort of their own homes via Facebook Live.

“It was never a real possibility, in our minds, for the event not to happen,” Southeast Missourian assistant publisher Lucas Presson said. “We just had to figure out what was possible. The Semoball Awards draws nearly 1,000 people, shoulder to shoulder, at the River Campus. This year, that capacity would have been cut significantly due to social distancing. What we’ve come up with, however, is something memorable for all the athletes, parents and guests.”

Though format will be different, most aspects of the show will remain the same including the recognition of athletes in fall and winter sports, top awards such as Comeback Player of the Year, the Sportsmanship award and Scholar-Athletes of the Year. This year’s event will also feature an expanded number of nominees in many categories and the addition of girls wrestling.

“The biggest missing piece, for us, is the absence of spring sports nominees,” Jon K. Rust, publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications said. “In lieu of those recognitions, we will be focusing on the significant role sports plays in Southeast Missouri with a video documentary featuring many of the area’s schools and communities.”

Other highlights during the broadcast will include giveaways from sponsors for those watching, the announcement of the Best Fans award, and a profile of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award winner.

There will also be a glossy, commemorative Semoball Awards magazine published in conjunction with the event in which parents, booster clubs, and community organizations will have the opportunity to purchase congratulatory messages.

“This magazine is the show program taken to a new level,” Presson said. “More than featuring bios, we’ll be telling the stories of the outstanding athletes, coaches, teams and organizations that make up the Southeast Missouri sports community. And families will have an opportunity to recognize their athletes, including all senior spring sport athletes who missed out on their final high school campaign.”

For more information on purchasing congratulatory messages or to reserve your copy of the magazine, visit If you have already purchased Semoball Awards tickets, a refund will be processed by June 30 via the same form of payment used to make the purchase.

“It will be in a different format than people are accustomed, but the commitment of the Semoball Awards team to providing a great show remains the same,” Presson said. “We hope communities, schools and families will find unique ways to share the evening with each other. Be sure to follow us on and in the coming weeks for more information on giveaways and interactive experiences to incorporate into the night of the event.”

The Semoball Awards is presented by SoutheastHEALTH and sponsored by The Bank of Missouri (Official Bank Sponsor), SEMO ESPN Radio, St. Louis Cardinals, rustmedia and your local newspaper.

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