Next Generation of Savannah Stars: 6th Annual DeWitt Award Recognizes Middle School Athletes!

By Prep Sports Report Staff | May 15, 2024

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While the achievements of high school athletes in Savannah often take the spotlight, the DeWitt Award has recognized middle school athletes in our community for a significant period.


For six years, middle school athletes have been recognized as the top student-athletes by being named the DeWitt 8th Grade Athlete of the Year Award. This year, five athletes were chosen and have the potential to make a significant impact at the high school level.


Here are the 2024 DeWitt 8th Grade Athlete of the Year winners, announced on May 9, 2024, at Forsyth Park. The award is given to males and females from public and private schools in Savannah, Georgia. Usually, four student-athletes are chosen, but this year, there was a tie.


The tie went to two SCCPSS Public School Athletes of the Year, Lyleigh Bradshaw of Godley Station K-8 and Alyssa Gibson of Stem Academy. The boy's winner was Jah'yea Martin of Myers Middle School, the Public School Athlete of the Year. Here are their bios, which were published on the website. 




Nominated by Ryan King, AD


High Honor Roll


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Actively encourages others to participate in sports and has provided equipment to those in need.


 "We are confident that her dedication, leadership, and positive influence will continue to inspire others and leave a lasting impact on her school, community, and beyond."  - Ryan King, AD.


CROSS COUNTRY - She ran to stay in shape so that her school would have the numbers to field a team.


VOLLEYBALL -  Selected Most Outstanding Player, leading her team to a city championship. She was selected Chatham County's Most Valuable Player for this year's tournament.


BASKETBALL - Leader on & off the court.


SOCCER - Leading scorer for her team.


She will be taking her talents to St Andrews next year.




Nominated by William Buckley, Coach


Honor Roll & Selected as a peer mediator & emerging scholar.


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Licensed soccer referee & peer mediation. Altar server at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, Healthy Savannah & Tybee Clean Beach volunteer.


"Alyssa is a good role model & great leader who is willing to take charge & mentor other young athletes."

- Will Buckley, Coach


"Alyssa is a fully committed athlete that you wish you could clone! She works as hard as possible at training and keeps a smile on the whole time. In games, she's a fierce competitor but also consistently shows sportsmanship before, during, and after the game. I've known her for years and have never seen her look to blame anything that goes wrong on anyone else as she seems to always take on all the responsibility of being a high level soccer player herself. She's a talented soccer player with an attitude that can see her go as far as she possibly can and is a pleasure to work with."

Jeff Storey-Pitts, Savannah United Select Director


CROSS COUNTRY - Finished in the top 10 in all of her meets on a city championship team.


VOLLEYBALL - Leader on city runner-up team.


BASKETBALL - Second in steals on a team that finished runner-up in the county.


SOCCER - Plays year-round for Savannah United. Co-captain & Offensive Player of the Year, leading her team to a city championship, averaging three goals per game.


She'll be taking her talents to Calvary next year.




Nominated by  Francis Cave, Coach




COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Coaches little league teams and tries to be a good mentor to the younger kids.


"Mr. Martin has many qualities of a leader. He is outspoken & holds his teammates accountable on the field & classroom. He has sound judgement & decision making skills that translate well on & off the field. "  Francis Cave, Coach


FOOTBALL - MVP & QB leading his team to a City Championship.


BASKETBALL - Led his team to a City Championship & was selected to participate in the 8th Grade All-Star Showcase.


TRACK - Championship qualifier in several events


He will be taking his talents to Groves High next year.


Stewart Dunn of Hancock Day School was the private school male recipient, and Janiyah Johnson of Savannah Country Day was the female athlete.




Nominated by Bart Bellairs, AD




COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:  Works with his church & 2nd Harvest Food Bank.


"Facing halftime deficits, he was always the first one to say "we got this, "even BEFORE the coaches could spoke.  He is just the ultimate warrior, an absolutely FIERCE competitor who refuses to lose and refuses to give up." Brooks Zeigler, Coach


"Stewart is a very passionate young man and talented athlete. Stewart always gives 100% and is a leader that commands the respect of his teammates. He is a very hard-working individual that love to compete on all levels and will do anything or play any position/role that will help his team to succeed." Adam Hart, Coach


FOOTBALL - Let his team in yards & touchdowns in 5th - 8th grade & MVP every year—team captain in 8th grade.


BASKETBALL - Was the leader in steals & a leader in scoring on a team that was runner-up in SPAL. He was selected MVP & received the Eagle Award.


TRACK - Champion in both the 100 & 400.


He'll be taking his talents to Benedictine next year.




Nominated by Kenny Conroy, Coach & AD


Honor Roll


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Serves meals at Kingdom Life Fellowship Church & in the West Savannah Community Boys & Girls Club. Spends time reading & playing games with kids at the Wesley Community Center—Summer Camp Counselor at SCDS Basketball Camp. 


"Janiyah is a coach's dream. Her hard work in both the classroom & athletics has made her a proven leader. Humble at heart, intimidating on the court or consoling a teammate, Janiyah is in a class by her herself when it comes to being a good teammate."

Kenny Conroy, Coach & AD


VOLLEYBALL - Team leader in blocks & kills on a SPAL Championship Team.


BASKETBALL - Played & started for her JV team as an 8th grader. Led her team in scoring & rebounding and was selected team MVP.


VARSITY TRACK - Won the SPAL championship in the shot put at 30.7 feet, discuss at 69.4 feet and 100 meters.

Note: Athletes must be nominated, have a minimum "B" average, participate in at least two sports, and strongly commit to community service. Below is the link to The Savannah Eighth Grade Athletes of the Year website.

Savannah's Eighth Grade Athletes of the Year: The DeWitt Award Savannah


Previous Savannah's Eighth Grade Athletes of the Year - The DeWitt Award



Savannah Chatham County public schools 

Girl Award Winner - Mariah Reed, Ellis Montessori Academy

Boy Award Winner - Ca'Ron Hall, Rice Creek School


Savannah Parochial - Grace Dare, St. Andrew's School

Boys Award Winner - James H. Mobley IV, Blessed Sacrament



Savannah Chatham County public schools 

Girl Award Winner - Amani Washington, Georgetown K-8

Boy Award Winner (s) - Sebastian Garcia, STEM Academy


Savannah Parochial Athletic League Schools

Girls Award Winner - Talia Johnson, Calvary Day School

Boys Award Winner - Stephen Cannon, Savannah Country Day /Asher Herrin of Hancock Day 



Savannah Chatham County public schools 

Girl Award Winner - Ava Thomas, Stem Academy

Boy Award Winner - Makai Joyner, Hubert Middle School


Savannah Parochial Athletic League Schools

Girls Award Winner - Harris Stone, Savannah Country Day School

Boys Award Winner(s) - Harry (Zo) Smalls, Savannah Christian Preparatory School/John Lilly, Blessed Sacrament



Chatham County public schools 

Girl Award Winner - Ernajah Mallard, Hubert Middle School 

Boys Award Winner - Makai Hampton, Southwest Middle School


Savannah Parochial Athletic League Schools

Girls Award Winner - Mary Sophia Fischer, Blessed Sacrament

Boys Award Winner(s) - Luke Kromenhoek, St. James/Jake Merklinger, Calvary Day School



Chatham County public schools 

Girls Award Winner - Margret Wade, Stem Academy

Boys Award Winner - Kaden Tuten, Stem Academy


Savannah Parochial Athletic League Schools

Girls Award Winner - Anna Pollak, Savannah Country Day School

Boys Award Winner - Conner Graham, Hancock Day School


Photo Credits: Bunny Ware


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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

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