Best Of 2020

Throughout the past year, scores of current and former local athletes and coaches have taken active roles in the fight against COVID-19 and for social justice. These are just a few of their stories. 

All comments were made to PressBox unless otherwise noted.

Messay Hailemariam

Messay Hailemariam, the associate head coach and running backs coach for the St. Frances football program, is staying connected with his players even though the Panthers did not play any games this fall.

Though most of the team’s players have been learning virtually from home since the pandemic hit, Hailemariam is staying with eight football players at the school’s boarding house in an environment designed to provide the stability those players don’t have at home and help them stay on track academically.

“Keeping them engaged is the tough part because they’re used to playing, so they look forward to the game weekly. It’s a lot easier to motivate a kid when there’s something he can touch, see and feel,” Hailemariam said in November. “But when you know for a fact you don’t have any immediate gratification for them, then you have to figure other ways to engage them, motivate them and kind of get them accomplishing the goal, if not more, when they don’t see it happening in front of them.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Messay Hailemariam

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Plus: Check out PressBox’s 2020 Mo Gaba Sportsperson of the Year, Trey Mancini.

Trey Mancini


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