Kids rule. And I can tell you that kids certainly did rock at the 2015 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards, which were handed out in Los Angeles last week. The Kids Choice Awards allowed kids to vote for their favorite athletes, and the winners received orange blimp trophies.
Most kids watched the show from their living rooms. But I had the awesome opportunity to experience it live!
Imagine a packed stadium, your favorite athletes, neon lights, cool music, dancing, games, cheerleaders, and lots of surprises. That was the experience at the awards. Nickelodeon sure knows how to party!
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hosted the event, and he received two awards: "Biggest Cannon" and "King of Swag." Wilson was a good sport when he was blasted with green slime, a famous custom of the Nickelodeon network. When it comes to slime, the more there is, the more we like you. And Wilson was covered head to toe in green goo!
One of the night’s biggest surprises was the guest appearance of the United States Women's Soccer Team. The audience welcomed them with loud chants of “USA! USA! USA!” I could feel the sense of pride running through my veins.
USWNT star and National Women’s Soccer League player Alex Morgan won "Best Female Athlete."
The crowd erupted again after Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry earned a hat trick with three awards: "Sickest Moves," "Clutch Player," and "Best Male Athlete.”
Other awards went to US tennis sensation Serena Williams, who was named "Queen of Swag;" Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who received "Biggest Powerhouse;" and Mike Trout from the Los Angeles Angels who won "Hands of Gold." "Most Enthusiastic Player" went to U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, "Favorite Newcomer" went to New York Giants player Odell Beckham, Jr., and the "Don't Try This At Home" award went to Lindsey Vonn, professional alpine ski racer.
It was super exciting hearing the nominees' names and watching their highlights on the big screens. I sat at the edge of my seat the whole time, and cheered wildly when the winners were announced.
But the highlight of the night was when former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter received the Legend Award, presented by 2014 Little League World Series Star Pitcher Mo'Ne Davis. As Jeter held his orange blimp, gallons of gold slime rained down upon him.
Again, the more slime, the more we like you. We loved him, and covered him in gold and glitter.
I'll never forget Jeter's speech and wise words: "Dream big. Set your goals high. Work extremely hard. Surround yourself with positive people. And, most importantly, be a good person."
As if being at the awards weren’t enough, I was fortunate to have an invitation to the Awards Post Party held at UCLA's Wilson Plaza. There was food, music, dancing, games, inflatable slides, and even a big zip-line. It was so much fun, and I was able to meet some great athletes.
I asked all of them the same question: "What is your advice for aspiring young players?" And all of them had very similar answers.
"Work hard, listen to your coaches, and don't let anyone put you down," Mo’ne Davis said.
"Work hard, practice hard, and turn your frustration and failure into determination,” added Jennie Finch, US Olympic gold (2004) and silver (2008) medalist softball player.
Retired MLB outfielder Gary Sheffield put it a different way. "Effort is free, so work hard,” he said. “There is a lot of great talent out there, but if you work harder than the next guy, you will always win."
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ll always remember this awesome event and keep with me the lessons I learned from these amazing and inspiring athletes.
Photos: Jason Merritt/KCSports2015/Getty Images For KCSports2015 (Jeter), Kevin Mazur/KCSports2015/WireImage (Wambach, Wilson, USWNT), Maxwell Surprenant (Mo’ne)