When Stan Lewis was named Hall County athletics director last year, he wanted to find ways to recognize the county's athletes.
His mission began by reaching out to the administration of each high school across the county for ideas, and it wasn't long before Lewis found the one he liked best.
He grabbed North Hall associate principal Billy Wells's idea of honoring one male and female senior athlete and ran with it.
"We shared the idea with all ADs and it just took off from there," Lewis said. "Hats off to Mr. Wells for getting the process started."
When the process was complete, the Torch Award was born. The name embodies the Hall County flame that is so prevalent in the system's branding. Lewis said everyone likes the imagery because the recipients are "lighting the way through leadership and example."
"Our mission statement as an athletic department is to develop character in our student-athletes while igniting in them the passion and the courage to compete," Lewis said. "We wanted the Torch Award recipients to be senior athletes who embody the ideals of that statement: character, passion, and courage."
Lewis said Hall County's head coaches nominate one male and female senior athlete that has shown examples of the school system's mission statement. Then, each school has its own process for determining the recipients.
"First of all, we feel it is important to recognize our athletes because of the time, effort, and level of commitment that is required of them in order to be successful," Lewis said. "They make incredible sacrifices in order to be a part of a team, to compete, and to learn the life lessons that sports provide.
Secondly, these are young people who are followed closely by their peers, younger children, and other people in the community. Their leadership and the potential to positively impact their schools and their communities is powerful. The more attention we can draw to that kind of character, the better off we will all be."
Because of COVID-19, the planned ceremony was canceled. Lewis said they'll record a ceremony and push it out via social media on May 19.
"When we began the planning for this event, we certainly did not see the pandemic coming, nor did we anticipate that our seniors would miss out on some long-held traditions," Lewis said. "This allows us to give some of them something special at the end of the year. We did have a banquet planned, but obviously that is not possible now."
Below is a list of each winner:
Cherokee Bluff -- Allison Fletcher and Grant Smith
Chestatee -- Lindsey Bornhorst and Caleb Carter
East Hall -- Tessa Rider and Drew Highfield
Flowery Branch -- Olivia Nance and Grant Lackey
Johnson -- Amy Berry and Jesse Harbin
North Hall -- Ansley Smallwood and Ty Smith
West Hall -- Rachael DeVall and Josh White.