AAU provides athletes an opportunity to grow as a player and a person, and a chance to play top-level competition. For many of today’s biggest athletes, like Breanna Stewart, AAU is where they first made a name for themselves.
“When I played on the local AAU team, you kind of had to prove yourself,” said former UConn standout and current WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart. “No one thought we were going to be good. We would go into the tournament and have that fight in us. I didn’t go to a charter school or a private school or anything like that. I just went to a regular public school. I wanted to kind of make a statement and do what I could to help put my high school team on the map, to help put my AAU team on the map, and I think I did that.”
She did more than that. She went on win the 86th annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award, alongside fellow recipient Keenan Reynolds, who played for Navy’s football team. The prestigious award has been given to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States since 1930, and includes some of the biggest names in sports history.
“It really doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t matter the size of your city, but if you have a dream and you really put your mind to it, it’s possible.”
That statement epitomizes the AAU’s goal. It is about providing opportunities for everyone, and giving athletes an opportunity to take advantage of those opportunities. Breanna Stewart took full advantage and is excelling as a professional athlete now, just like a long list of Sullivan Award winners that came before her.
Past winners of the award include some of the most successful athletes in American history, like Carl Lewis, Peyton Manning, Bill Walton, Michelle Kwan, and Michael Phelps. Other past winners like Ezekiel Elliot, Tim Tebow, Shawn Johnson, Missy Franklin, Jim Ryun, and J.J. Redick are some of the biggest names in sports today.
AAU is now taking nominations for the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award presented by Eastbay. You can nominate someone for the award here. Nominations close February 21st at 11:59 p.m. eastern, so make sure to get them in while you still can! For more information, visit aausullivan.org.