Each year the Judges Athletic Association hosts an awards ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of Handley athletes. Awards are given to the outstanding athlete for each sport. In addition, the Judges Athletic Association gives six Major Awards for outstanding senior athletes. All senior athletes receive a commemorative gavel.
Winnie Legge Award – JAA Award for Best All-Around Athlete
Winnie Legge coached athletics at Handley in 1927. Prior to his coaching career, he had coached at Shepherd College and Virginia Tech. Mr. Legge attended Virginia Tech from 1914 to 1918 where he was a four-year letterman in football, basketball, baseball and track. During his four years at Virginia Tech, Mr. Legge earned 16 athletic letters and came to be regarded as one of the greatest athletes in the history of that university. The J.A.A.Winnie Legge Award is given annually to the Senior Student-Athletes at Handley who display excellence in all-around athletic ability.
Otis “Snag” Sargent Award– JAA Award for Excellence in Athletics and Academics
Otis “Snag” Sargent played football, basketball and baseball at Handley High School where he received his long-standing nickname,“Snag”, for his outstanding ability to catch football passes. After he graduated from Handley, Mr. Sargent returned to coach football, basketball and track at his alma mater. His 1945 football team is one of only four undefeated, untied teams in Handley history. Snag Sargent later became the owner of Snag’s Sport Shop in downtown Winchester. As a businessman, he was very active in civic affairs and community service. Snag Sargent, a Winchester legend, succeeded in many endeavors and enjoyed the respect of his peers. The Otis “Snag” Sargent Award is given annually to the Senior Student-Athletes who display excellence in both athletics and academics.
Ron Rice Award – JAA Award for Excellence in Athletics and Leadership
In 1966, Ron Rice came to Handley High School to teach math and to become the school’s head football coach. He took a football program that had posted a 2-7-1 record the previous year and, as a result of charismatic leadership and hard work, led the team to a 7-2-1 record his first year. Two years later, he coached one of only four Handley football teams that have enjoyed undefeated, untied seasons. Mr. Rice was an inspiring leader of young people; he possessed an ability to change the negative to the positive. His outstanding leadership guided one of the great eras in Handley athletics history. The Ron Rice Award is given annually to the Senior Student-Athletes at Handley who display excellence in athletics and demonstrate, both on and off the field, the qualities of school spirit and leadership.
Jimmy Omps Award- JAA Award for Perseverance
In 2005, the JAA recognized the contributions of long-time Handley athletic director James “Jimmy” Omps by establishing an award in his honor. Omps himself was the initial recipient of this award. Jimmy Omps, or “J.O.” as he is affectionately called, graduated from Handley in 1953 and returned to Handley in 1959 as a math teacher and assistant basketball coach. He later became head varsity basketball coach, athletic director and director of student activities. His meticulous organizational skills and his work ethic served Handley athletics well for many years. J.O. is a member of the Hunter Maddex Hall ofFame, the Shepherd University Hall of Fame and the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame. He has received numerous awards recognizing his talents and hardwork in athletic administration, including national and state awards as High School Athletic Director of the Year. When asked to select the criteria for this award, J.O. requested that the JAA honor the student who has displayed qualities of persistence, diligence, reliability, team spirit, and high character while not necessarily being the most outstanding athlete on his or her team.
H. Russell Potts, Jr. Award- JAA Award for Academic Excellence
In the term ‘student-athlete’, student comes first and athlete comes second. Striving to recognize student achievement in the academic realm, the JAA has for many years recognized the senior student-athlete who achieves the highest grade point average. In 2003, the JAA decided to formalize this award by naming it in honor of H. Russell Potts, Jr., a long-time friend and supporter of the JAA. A graduate of Handley, “Russ” is personally responsible for having secured funding for many of the scholarships being awarded by the JAA. His great affection for Handley High School is well-known, as is his support for education in general, both in his personal life and in his former role as Chairman of the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee. In recognition of Senator Potts’ support for education and his tireless efforts on behalf of the JAA and Handley athletics, the JAA awards the H. Russell Potts, Jr. Scholar-Athlete Award to the senior student-athlete who has achieved the highest grade point average.
Thurman H. Potts Award- JAA Award for Community Service
The Thurman Potts Award for Community Service is given in honor of Thurman Potts. Thurman was a three sport lettermen at John Handley High School. Upon graduation, Thurman Potts joined the United States Army and served his country during World War II. During his service Potts sacrificed his life saving the life of fellow service men that were in perilous danger. In his honor, The Judges Athletic Association honors a Handley Athlete who demonstrated personal sacrifice in the service of the school or community.
Ancil Gray Award- JAA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Handley Athletics
Ancil Gray was a woodworking teacher at Handley in the 1940s through 1960s. He loved athletics and had been a state champion high school miler in his home state of West Virginia. At Handley, he coached the golf team and served as a starter for track meets. Moreover, he used his mechanical abilities and craftsmanship to assist the athletic department in many ways. He and his shop students helped in the maintenance of athletic equipment, and he constructed one of Handley’s first sets of hurdles. He was always willing to lend his time and talents in a volunteer capacity to help improve the conditions of the Handley student-athletes. For this reason, each year the JAA honors a member of the community for his or her outstanding contribution to the Handley athletic program by awarding the Ancil Gray Award.
Eddie Manuel Award- JAA Award for Distinguished Service to the JAA
Asa Handley student in the late 1940s, Eddie Manuel earned his JH letter as a manager for Coach Hunter Maddex’s football team. As a Handley alumnus in 1957, Eddie Manuel was one of the founders of the Judges Athletic Association. Still remembered as “Mr. JAA,” Eddie’s dream was to create an organization of supporters which could provide the students of Handley with opportunities to excel on the playing fields and with scholarship funds to pursue higher education after their Handley years. Eddie Manuel’s impact on Handley and its student-athletes for over fifty years is immeasurable. Each year the JAA recognizes the outstanding contributions of a member of the community to the JAA by awarding him or her the Eddie Manuel Distinguished Service Award.