http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2006/02_17-40/SPO Sports comment: Belichick award scores at TD banquet Commentary by JOE GROSS, Senior Staff Writer Not much changes at the awards banquets put on annually by the Touchdown Club of Annapolis. Each year, some of the best high school and college football players and the top scholastic teams have praises heaped upon them. Trophies and plaques are handed out. And each winner gets to give his own version of the obligatory thank you speech. The organization's 52nd annual banquet, was pretty close to the same as each of the 51 dinners that went before it. A night for all things good. Awards to young men for being the best. Thoughts of the future of the award winners. Reflections of the lives of those close to the club who passed away during the past year. It was what the dinner has become over the years. The same awards. The same overstated presentations. The same appreciative winners. The same approving applause from the same cast of characters that has turned out year after year after year. But something was different last night. There was a new award. And the sudden bond forged between the late Steve Belichick, for whom the award is named, and George Belt Jr., the first recipient of the award, simply knocked the socks off the huge crowd that filled the Annapolis Radisson Hotel ballroom. The new award, the conception of Touchdown Club president Rick Dion and approved by the Board of Governors, was just what the club needed to add some sparkle to the banquet. Naming the award for Belichick after the long time Naval Academy assistant coach passed away in November of 2005 paid homage to an Annapolis resident who was deeply involved in sports without seeking a spotlight for his achievements. Selecting Belt as the first winner of the award recognized a man who has spent several years literally saving local youths through programs he created and directs at the Stanton Community Center in Annapolis without seeking the accolades he so richly deserves. "This year we lost an old friend in Steve Belichick and, ironically, we gave this award to a new friend, George C. Belt Jr., who everybody at the Stanton Center calls Mr. Lassie," Dion said starting his introduction of a native Annapolitan who tried to get away from the blight of his Clay Street neighborhood only to end up as an ultimate do-gooder within a few minutes walk from his childhood home. "He's a coach at the Stanton Center, he's a founder, he's a fund-raiser, he's a ref. He's a great man," Dion said. "I could stand here all night and never be able to say enough about him, but I'm going to try." Dion told how Belt is so much more than a coach to the youngsters who use the Stanton Center. He has set up programs to get kids to do homework. He makes sure some eat properly and that they get to school. "Mr. Belichick would be very proud to have Mr. Belt receive the award named for him," an emotional Dion said prior to calling Belt to the podium and having Bill Belichick, Steve's son who is the coach of the New England Patriots, come forward to present the award. With an award being named for his father, Bill and his mother Jeanette were proud to be at the banquet. There was little doubt that Belt was the type of person the Belichicks would want the award to go to. "I'm very much humbled to get this award," Belt said before crediting his wife, his sons and his parents for making him the person he is. He told how he left Annapolis for the bright lights of New York after getting out of college and how he hoped to get a job there as an artist or in graphics. And he told how he became disappointed when he was turned down for a position with Sports Illustrated. "All the air went out of me, but I found out God had a better plan," Belt said. "God put me back into the same neighborhood I was trying to get away from. Now, I wouldn't want it any other way because I love what I'm doing." "I'm not looking for any pats on the back. I'm looking to deliver some of those kids from the trouble they can get into," Belt said. "We at the Stanton Center try to pick up those kids and put them on their feet. We try to teach them math, English, social studies, science; we try to make them students not just athletes. Yes there were the other awards: The Tony Rubino Silver Helmet to Navy's Lamar Owens, the Louis L. Goldstein Golden Helmet to Maryland's Vernon Davis; the Jim Rhodes Trophy to Old Mill High's Ryan Callahan, the Al Laramore Award to North County's Zack Farrington, the Jerry Mears Trophy to Coach Mike Whittles for Archbishop Spalding being the high school team of the year and the Vince DePasquale Award to Millersville's Jason Clarke. There was the Rae and Jim Morgan Lifetime Service Award to the family of the late Reggie Barrett. And there was the political banter between emcee Dick Duden, Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Speaker of the House Mike Busch. There was plenty of socializing and smiles and cheering. But nothing came close to bringing down the house as the Steve Belichick Award and its recipient George Belt Jr. That one change in the usual program made last night's banquets one of the best. - No Jumps- Published February 17, 2006, The Capital, Annapolis, Md. Copyright Ã‚Â© 2006 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.