TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The annual Golden Nole Awards Banquet is a highlight of the Florida State athletics calendar, a chance to celebrate Seminoles who thrive as members of their community and commit themselves to leadership both on and off their playing fields.
This year’s banquet will be no different, although it certainly will look a little different.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having upended planned events and gatherings, the Florida State Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), which hosts the Golden Nole Awards each year, sought a way to sufficiently celebrate this year’s group while still following expert guidelines to stay healthy and safe.
Thus, the idea to honor the Golden Nole Award winners online, via social media, was born. And the celebration won’t last for just an evening. This year, it will extend across three days, starting on Tuesday evening.
Each day, FSU’s department of student-athlete development will post new winners and tributes on their Instagram account (@fsu_nolesserve).
You are cordially invited to our 2020 GOLDEN NOLE. We would love for you to join us this week as we bring our Garnet Carpet to social media! Each day we will honor the individuals who embody our mission: SERVE. LEAD. LIVE UNCONQUERED#goldennole2020 pic.twitter.com/RynsOibbwh
— FSU Student-Athlete Development (@FSU_nolesserve) April 18, 2020
“In our athletic department, our motto is ‘Comprehensive Excellence,'” said Ashton Henderson, Florida State’s assistant AD for student-athlete development. “And, due to these unprecedented times, we can’t waiver from that.
“The student-athletes fueled us to keep going.”
Indeed, swimmer Paxton Rhoads said that holding a modified version of the Golden Nole Awards allowed for FSU’s community of student-athletes to feel some sense of normalcy in an otherwise strange time.
“It could have been canceled outright,” he said, “but having this really helps everyone wherever they are in the world – because we have so many student-athletes all over – kind of bring us back together, even though we’re far away and really connect us and unite us under one thing: Florida State.”
Each of FSU’s varsity sports will have a Golden Nole representative.
Previous winners include football’s Christian Ponder, Derwin James and Marvin Wilson, men’s basketball’s Jonathan Isaac and women’s basketball’s Brittany Brown.
Among this year’s awards to be announced are:
“Golden Nole celebrates our high achieving student-athletes,” said Sarah Petronio, FSU’s director of student-athlete development and events. “They’re ambassadors for the university, they embody all of those characteristics that we consider the Seminole spirit. They’re very active in the community. They’re leaders on their team. They are engaged in all areas of the student-athlete experience.
“Golden Nole showcases these stories and brings everyone together to celebrate the year.”
A look at the department of student-athlete development’s social media accounts shows photos from a lengthy list of community events, including reading to elementary school children as part of literacy week, gift-wrapping and donations for the holidays and building beds for families in need.
“Community service is part of being an athlete at Florida State,” said swimmer Manuella Ribas Andrade, the 2019-20 SAAC president. “There’s an understanding that you need to perform in your sport and in the classroom, but also give back in the community.”
They perform that service, of course, without seeking recognition. But the annual banquet still serves as a way for the university community to say “thank you” while also having some fun.
At a typical banquet, student-athletes don formal attire for an award-show style ceremony.
Last year’s event boasted an attendance of more than 400.
That won’t be the case this time around, but Henderson believes that a week-long celebration of the Seminoles’ off-field achievements won’t be any less memorable.
“The student-athletes fueled us to keep going,” he said. “And, couple that with Sarah’s ingenuity and their ideas and everything we’re utilizing to keep it going, it’s just been very exciting.”