Rammy Awards honor UNC student athletes

For the first time ever, North Carolina ditched its year-end athletic banquet in the Dean Dome and invited student athletes to gather in Memorial Hall for the Rammy Awards.

The award ceremony was hosted by Jones Angell and lasted just less than two hours, but those few hours were packed with performances, mentions of ACC and NCAA titles and Giovani Bernard punt return references.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said they changed the event this year to increase student-athlete interest and participation.

“We had a lot of input from our staff and from our students, and we just thought we had an event that we thought we could make better,” Cunningham said. “And the students did a great job coming up with ideas and concepts. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

The evening began with a video montage of UNC’s athletic successes from the past year, including said punt return, clips from the women’s soccer NCAA tournament, R.G. Keenan’s overtime goal against the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team and several other UNC achievements.

Angell then moved the event into its award section. Student athletes presented each other with Rammy Awards — including awards for “Best Play,” “Best Upset” and “Breakthrough Athletes.”

The football team’s Tim Jackson presented the “Breakthrough Athletes” awards and went off the prompter to ask co-presenter and volleyball player Chaniel Nelson if she had seen the circus when it came into town. She said no.

“That’s too bad because it was ‘in tents,’” Jackson joked.

Swimmer J.P. Gaylor also went off-script and joked about presenting with Whitney Adams, a women’s basketball player. Both have red hair.

It was clear from the get-go that the event was supposed to be lighthearted, and award presentations were broken up by performances and videos.

Sophomore Benton Moss of the baseball team dazzled audience members with a piano performance of the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. Moss said he picked a song that he knew could get the crowd going.

“I was determining whether or not I actually write a song, just kind of write a song to go with (the Rammys) or try to get people into it so that they could recognize it,” Moss said. “I started looking around on YouTube and found an easy-to-put together version.”

He later returned to the stage with track and field’s Marisa Dobbins to accompany her in a mashup singing performance that included “Pumped Up Kicks” and “No Diggity.”

Moss’ musical talents earned him a nomination for the “Most Artistic” award, one of the many superlatives that UNC athletes could vote on in the weeks leading up to the event.

Zoya Johnson of the gymnastics team ended up taking that award and the award for “Cutest Couple” (which she snagged with track and field’s Devon Carter).

Other superlatives included “Most Likely to Be Famous Outside of Sports” (won by field hockey’s Meghan Lyons and football’s Caleb Pressley), “Best Scooter” (won by track and field’s Kylie McCoy, who drives a hot pink scooter) and “Most Likely to Get a Reality Show” (won by men’s lacrosse).

The women’s tennis team’s videography and entertainment skills were commended when it won the “One Minute to Win It” award — the prize given to the team that could create the best short video. The women’s tennis team submitted a film of players dancing, posing and doing tricks on the moving sidewalks of Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The evening closed with the singing of the Alma Mater, but not before one last video was shown — a compilation of all 28 Tar Heel teams dancing to “All I Do Is Win.” The video was made after the success of the “Jump Around” video the athletics department released last year. Cunningham said that sense of humor is what helped inspire this year’s event.

“We started talking about (the Rammys) last year because that’s when they first did the ‘Jump Around’ video,” Cunningham said. “The Student Athlete Advisory Committee came together, and we wanted them to get more involved and take an ownership of the event. We thought this was a way to make an awards banquet, celebrate their success and get a lot more students involved.”

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