Carrollwood resident Carnell Moore wanted to empower and award student athletes when he launched the Premier Players website in 2010. The site showcases youth sports talent across the U.S.
The website eventually lead to a magazine.
Now it's expanded to an annual awards program.
Each year the organization awards a player in a variety of sports as the "Premier Player" of the year, including college football, basketball (men's and women's), baseball, hockey and softball.
Separating them from other awards like the Heisman Trophy and the Lombardi Award is the fact that they let the fans do the choosing.
"The fans are buying the jerseys and coming out supporting it," said Lee Yost refering to fans support of college sports. Yost sits on the board of directors for Premier Players.
"We wanted to give them a chance to select the winner of this award," he said.
The way it works is the Premier Players organization forms a watch list of the Top 20 players in the country before each sports season begins. Halfway through the season, they begin to add more players. Then the site opens up for the public to vote. Voting takes place throughout the year.
Last year, they recieved more than 15,000 votes in all sports combined.
Of special note is the college football winner. Premier Players began hosting a special fundraiser and awards ceremony for that particular player.
This year marks the 3rd Annual Premier Player of College Football Awards dinner. Set for Jan. 19, 2013, at the Embassy Suites near the University of South Florida, the awards gala includes entertainment, dinner and an awards presentation. The Top 5 athletes who got the most votes on the website are invited.
Football legend Lee Roy Selmon helped the organizers get the awards banquet started before he passed away last year, Yost said.
In honor of him, Premier Players also awards a Lee Roy Selmon Spirit Award along with a Freddie Solomon Spirit Award to players who have contributed to their teams and communities on and off the field. Solomon was a standout University of Tampa football player who went to the NFL winning two Super Bowls.
"We've had a lot of fun the last two years," said Yost adding that 200 people attended last year's event.
Premier Players donates a portion of the funds raised from the dinner to local charities including The Children's Home, Joshua House and SCORE International.
Past Premier Player College Football winners include Case Keenum, who now plays for the Houston Texans, and Ryan Mallet, now a player for the New England Patriots.
Both Moore and Yost are Carrollwood residents and have developed a love for sports and what lessons it imparts on young people. They see the Premier Players organization as a way to get and keep children involved not only in sports but the community.
"Giving everybody an opportunity is the bottom line," Yost said. "You'd hate for these kids not to be able to participate because they didn't have the money or wherewithal."
As a result Premier Players has begun expanding across the country and works to match children with mentors and community projects. A Premier Players College Basketball awards ceremony was recently held in Charlotte, N.C.
"We want to see them get to college and we’re building a network of mentors who can help them," Moore said. "Our goal is to build a national network to help kids get to a different level in the community."
For more information, to vote or purchase tickets to the awards ceremony, visit Premier Players online.