Photo courtesy VCU Athletics
Best Local Sports Coach
VCU's Shaka Smart
Coach Smart has gotten closer to basketball's No. 1 star than any of us — he got an invite to
LeBron James' high school graduation party via Smart's best friend and head coach at Akron, Keith Dambrot, who coached King James in high school. Smart says he loves the "big-city feel" of Richmond and adds that his secret remedy to keeping his coaching voice in shape is ginger root and Werther's Originals.
2. Chris Mooney, UR
3. Mike London, U.Va.
Best Local Sports Team
Richmond Flying Squirrels We were skeptical about this new ballclub coming to our fair city so soon after our breakup with the Richmond Braves. The Flying Squirrels? Nutzy? Really? But several months into our relationship with the new team, we've come to realize how much the old one took us for granted. Sometimes, it's nice to be courted, and the Squirrels are doing just that, what with high-energy promotions, Nutzy bouncing all over the place, gator wrestling, you name it — making every game an event, win or lose. 2. Richmond Kickers 3. River City Rollergirls
Best Local High School Athlete
Ryan Peterson A two-time national champion in the duathlon, Hanover High School's Ryan Peterson earns it every week in training, when he swims 2,500 meters, bikes 120 miles and runs 30 to 35 miles. In his spare time, he's also a member of his school's cross country and track teams. We're tired just thinking about it. 2. Curtis Grant 3. Jordan Kocen
Best Sporting Goods Shop
Dick's Sporting Goods
Visit dickssportinggoods.com for locations
With four super-sized locations in our area, Dick's covers the region the way it covers the wide world of sports — comprehensively. Specialty shops go deeper, but if your athletic pursuits lean toward the constant variety of sport, you can get a lot of shopping done here in a single trip.
2. Disco Sports
3. Green Top Sporting Goods
Best Local Sports Figure
So where did Flying Squirrels mascot Nutzy get his moves? His training was not disclosed, but community-relations director Christina Shisler says the ballclub "knew right from the start that he was the best fit with his ability to have fun, go nuts and entertain the crowd." This squirrel without a tail can be seen vaulting from the roof of the dugouts, up railings and into the crowd. Nutzy's stunts even included wrestling an alligator during a game in June — and he was crowned champion wrestler.
2. Rob Ukrop
3. Paris Kills, River City Rollergirls
Best Local College Athlete
VCU's Larry Sanders
We're going to miss Sanders, who's skipping his senior season in favor of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, who drafted him with the 15th pick, but at least the feeling is mutual. "The atmosphere, the fans, home games always sold out — this is a basketball school, a basketball city," Sanders told us. "The atmosphere is unbelievable."
2. VCU's Joey Rodriguez
3. UR's Kevin Anderson
Best Local Sports Play-by-Play Announcer
Unless you were counting analysis of local politicos on his morning show for WRVA, Barrett hasn't actually done any play-by-play since 2000, when he did the honors for Eastern Michigan University's football team. He is, however, the public-address announcer for the Flying Squirrels, the minor-league baseball team that's winning the hearts and minds of our fair city. "People know I'm getting up at 3 o'clock in the morning and doing baseball games at night, and they felt sorry for me," he explains.
2. (Tie) Bob Black; Mike Levay; Robby Robinson
Best Local Sportswriter
Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch
A grateful Woody suggests that his selection probably had more to do with longevity — he's been at the sportswriting game in Richmond for three decades — than anything else, but after the columnist predicted a 9-7 finish for our beloved Washington Redskins in 2010, we fell in love with him ourselves.
2. Andy Thompson
3. (Tie) Art Utley; Chip Tarkenton
Best Local Sports-Radio Host
Greg Burton of ESPN 950
To hear the host of drive-time sports-chat fest Hardly Workin' With Greg Burton tell it, Richmond's reputation as a subpar sports town is far from deserved. From NASCAR to high school football, from VCU to the University of Richmond, "there's never really a drought of exciting sports topics on the local level."
2. Big Al Coleman of ESPN 950
3. Wes McElroy of Sports Radio 910