St. Joseph Sports Inc. held its annual banquet ceremony Wednesday night to honor outstanding male and female scholar-athletes in St. Joseph.

Scholar-athletes were nominated from each of the five St. Joseph high schools. The top two are chosen by the St. Joseph Sports Inc. Board of Directors and receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Bishop LeBlond’s Juliann Smith was selected as the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year while Central’s Cole Hokpins was chosen as the Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“I was just excited to be a nominee so, when they said it was me that won, it was cool and it was a great honor,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins had success on the basketball and tennis court while attending Central, but said his greatest accomplishment goes beyond athletics.

“I’ve obviously made a bond with people that’ll last a long time. Those things will carry on way longer than sports,” Hopkins said.

Smith played basketball, volleyball, and soccer during her time as a Golden Eagle.

“I was pretty honored because there was great competition this year, all those people were very deserving of being nominated and winning,” Smith said. “So, definitely a very humbling experience.”

Smith has received All-State and All-City recognition in both soccer and volleyball, but plans to carry out her success on the soccer field next year. She will continue her soccer and academic career at William Jewel College this fall.

Hopkins will attend the University of Arkansas where he will major in engineering. The soon-to-be freshman is excited to begin college, but admits he will miss walking the halls of Central, seeing his classmates and teachers.

“Next year at some point I’ll be looking back and I’ll definitely miss seeing some people,” Hopkins said. “You never realized it was going to be the last time you see them.”

The remaining six nominees each received $500 scholarships. This year’s nominees include Bishop LeBlond’s Kanon Sumpter, Central’s Kacey Duvall, St. Joseph Christian’s Jacqueline Carlson and Brent Boyd, Benton’s Jadynn Peters and Hunter Armstrong, and Lafayette’s Tarrin Deayon and Ethan Lowe.

Criteria selection includes the demonstration of academic excellence with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average; outstanding athletic performance; dedication to good citizenship; and active involvement in extracurricular activities.

This year’s event was a little bit different as it was held virtually on St. Joseph School District’s Facebook page.

“It was a little interesting, but it was still nice that I could be surrounded by my family because that’s really what it’s about,” Smith said.

The full video of the virtual banquet can be found at https://www.facebook.com/stjosephschooldistrict.

Kristen Carver can be reached at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowCarver