High school student athletes from throughout Southwest Florida were honored at the sixth annual News-Press All-Area Stars awards banquet held May 31 at the Germain Arena in Estero.

NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was the guest speaker and gave a heartfelt message to the more than 200 student athletes, their families and coaches. The former Florida Gator and Dallas Cowboys running back told the young athletes to learn from others’ mistakes and always do what’s right.

During the event, the News-Press announced its Male and Female Athlete of the Year: Josh Kennedy, a cross country runner at Fort Myers High School, and Megan Galbreath, a diver at Cape Coral High School. Dwayne Donnell, girls’ basketball coach at Dunbar High School, was named the Jeff Sommer Memorial Coach of the Year.

The banquet was presented by the Fort Myers News-Press and local businesses and community groups, including U.S. Sugar, which sponsored a table for student athletes and their families. Among those athletes was Jordan Lopez, a senior at LaBelle High School, who was a Player of the Year finalist.

Lopez was considered instrumental in LaBelle ending its 18-year district title drought and winning a state playoff game. The Cowboys’ leading scorer, he tallied 22.7 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

LaBelle High School basketball standout Jordan Lopez was a Player of the Year finalist.

Jordan Lopez

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The News-Press All-Area Stars awards banquet honored the region’s top student athletes.

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