It's happening: Our 2020 Regional All Stars Event is on!

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Here are three miraculous moments in New England sports history that, despite the odds, happened:

"Miracle in Miami," Nov. 23, 1984: With a second left in the game, Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" pass to receiver Gerard Phelan gives underdog Boston College the win over the University of Miami.

"Mother's Day Miracle," May 13, 2007: Down 5-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning and just as most fans were about to leave, the Boston Red Sox rally for six runs to defeat the Baltimore Orioles, sending thousands of moms (and dads and kids) home from Fenway happy.

"The Bennington Banner & Manchester Journal's 2020 Regional All Stars," June 22, 2020: A pandemic halts all large, in-person gatherings, threatening the third annual All Stars gala. But the Banner and Journal mount a huge All Stars comeback. Led by former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Kaat and sponsors Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Bennington Subaru and Olin Scott Fund Inc. The 2020 Regional All Stars is transformed into a video awards show honoring more than 60 high school athletes and coaches in 19 sports.

AN ALL STARS RALLY

Back in early March, we were gearing up for the 2020 Regional All Stars gala set for this month at a banquet facility in Bennington County. But then, the pandemic hit and it derailed any thought of a gathering like we had in previous years.

For the 2020 All Stars event, it might have been game over.

But we quickly realized we couldn't not honor our best high school athletes and coaches. The pandemic had taken so much from them already, we had to find a way to make an All Stars comeback. We decided to rally the troops.

So, we called up legendary MLB pitcher and commentator Jim Kaat who was to host our awards ceremony in person.

"Jim," we said, "are you still on board to host if we do this as a video awards program online and on TV instead?"

"Yes!" Jim responded.

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We called up our sponsors — Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Bennington Subaru and Olin Scott Fund Inc. — without whom we couldn't have any Regional All Stars awards gala or video show.

"Hey, everyone," we said, "we can't let this year go by without celebrating the achievements of our top high school athletes and coaches, right?"

"Absolutely right! We're all in!" our sponsors replied.

So then we went looking for a producer. Someone who could produce a professional video everyone would be proud to watch. Someone who had experience at a place like ESPN and maybe who's won multiple Emmys as a television sports producer.

We found exactly that fellow in Jeffrey Ross, who now runs his own production company called Reel Video Group.

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"Jeffrey Ross!" we said. "We have a bunch of athletes and coaches up here we need to honor for our 2020 Regional All Stars. But since we can't do it in person, we'd like you to produce it as a video awards show. You in?"

"Let's do this!" Jeff said.

Soon, Olympic and professional athletes wanted in on the action. So they — and to find out who "they" are, you'll have to watch — started sending us video cameos congratulating The Bennington Banner & Manchester Journal's 2020 Regional All Stars' MVP athletes and coaches.

IT'S GAME ON!

And with that, folks, we are going to pull this off. The 2020 Regional All Stars event is on!

We've transformed the All Stars from what would have been a dinner and awards gala into a complete awards show program featuring photo and video highlights of the most valuable athletes and coaches in action during the 2019-2020 season.

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Now, all anyone has to do is log on or tune in to watch wherever you are. In your TV room. At your computer. On your mobile device.

Mark the date: Monday, June 22, 6 p.m.

Mark the place: Tune in to watch at benningtonbanner.com or on your community access television station. (See the full list in the sidebar.)

Our annual All Stars event — when we honor our top high school athletes and coaches and more — is a showcase event that gets everyone pumped and excited. We're so fortunate to be able to celebrate this year's athletes and coaches — despite the pandemic.

The All Stars awards show will honor more than 60 of the region's most valuable high school athletes and coaches in 19 sports.

We'll also reveal the 2020 Regional All Stars' highest accolades — under wraps until the show airs: The male and female athletes of the year, the coach of the year and the team of the year. And Jim Kaat gives an inspired message to the athletes and a special salute to the athletes who never got to enjoy a spring sports season.

Call it another miracle moment in New England sports history: Since we can't celebrate our high school athletes and coaches in person, we're celebrating virtually.

And, in case you're wondering. Since we can't give them in person, we'll be shipping those MVP trophies to athletes and coaches along with a DVD of the 2020 Regional All Stars awards show.

So, on June 22, make some popcorn, gather close family, take a seat on the couch and tune in at 6 p.m. to watch The Bennington Banner & Manchester Journal's 2020 Regional All Stars awards show.

Kevin Moran is the executive editor of the Bennington Banner.


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