The All-Texomaland Banquet will be returning this summer, and it will be bigger than ever.


The Herald Democrat announces that the 2017 All-Texomaland Banquet will be held Thursday evening, June 29 at the Texoma Event Center at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denison. The banquet will honor the top prep athletes from 31 high schools within the newspaper’s coverage area, which includes Grayson and Fannin counties and parts of four other counties.


The first All-Texomaland Banquet in 2013 drew almost 300 guests, and the event has grown since. The banquet took a one-year break last summer with a focus on making it bigger in 2017.


“The Herald Democrat is excited to be bringing back this important recognition event to the deserving all-star athletes here in Texoma,” said Nate Rodriguez, senior group publisher of the Herald Democrat and its sister media outlets. “After taking a year off, and listening to area coaches on what they wanted, I am thrilled to be bringing back All-Texomaland this year bigger and better. We are growing to include more teams and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear from a world-famous sports personality during the awards banquet.”


The guest speaker will be announced next week. The banquet will be open to the public and ticket information will be available soon at www.heralddemocrat.com.


All first- and second-team All-Texomaland honorees will receive invitations to the banquet. This year, for the first time, state championship qualifiers in track and field, cross-country, swimming, golf, tennis and wrestling will also be included. In an additional first for this year’s banquet, student-athletes will be selected for prestigious overall awards.


“I have great respect for student athletes and coaches,” Rodriguez said. “It takes a lot of dedication and drive to be No. 1, and I am honored to be providing a recognition outlet to these very deserving individuals. Our commitment is to be more local and to connect with this amazing community. I can’t think of something more local in our community than our high school students.”


The Herald Democrat sports staff chooses an All-Texomaland team for several team sports at the end of their seasons. The 2016-17 All-Texomaland girls’ basketball team, for instance, is in today’s issue and the boys’ basketball All-Texomaland team will be published next Sunday.


The sports from which All-Texomaland teams are selected include football (split between big and small schools), volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, and softball. Coaches and superlative players — Coach of the Year, Most Valuable Player, etc. — are also recognized on each team.


All-Texomaland selection is based on input from local coaches, all-district votes, season statistics, and playoff performance, and also on direct observation of athletes through game coverage.


Other sports, in particular boys’ and girls’ soccer, will be added in the future as these sports grow and more schools begin to participate.