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From Small Beginnings Come Great Things

In 1954, Dr. James A. DiRenna Sr. and Dr. D.M. Nigro were dedicated to supporting the Dom Bosco Center - the center of sports for young athletes from the Northeast Kansas City community.  With the assistance of the University of Notre Dame and the Rockne Foundation, they worked on developing national community sporting programs and recognizing star athletes in football and basketball. Dr. Nigro established the football award, DiRenna the basketball award.

The DiRenna Award began in 1954, annually honoring the top male basketball player in the Kansas City area.  Alan Brofman was appointed coordinator of the award working with Bruce Rice (Sports Anchor at Channel 5) and Ernie Mehl, then sports editor of the Kansas City Star.  In the early years the award was presented to a student who was the top basketball player with the Missouri region where the Kansas City Star/Times was thrown.

In the 1980's due to change in legislative issues concerning Kansas high school athletes, Kansas students were invited and allowed to participate.  Now the award recruiting area includes approximately a 50-mile radius of the greater metropolitan Kansas City area.

When Brofman leaves Kansas City, Dr. James A. DiRenna Jr. took over the coordination of the award.  DiRenna Jr partnered with Kevin Gray of the Kansas City Sports Commission and a sports marketing/publicity consultant.  They helped facilitate the creation of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association.

In addition, Dr. James A. DiRenna Jr. created a Female category to the annual DiRenna Award beginning with the 1996-97 basketball season.


Presently, Larry House serves as the coordinator of the award and is the executive director of the coaches association.  With the help of the association, the local coaches submit athletes' names.  Currently, the finalists and the winner are determined through a voting process involving the associations's board members and other coaches from both the Missouri and Kansas at the annual spring selection night meeting.  2022 marks the 69th anniversary of the Men's DiRenna Award and the 26th Anniversary of the Women's DiRenna Award.

Dr. DiRenna, who passed away in 1996, was a well-known surgeon, teacher and hospital developer.  His son, Dr. James A. DiRenna Jr. has continued the family tradition of this award with the assistance of the coaches association. This award is presented annually at the DiRenna All-Stars Awards Show which is part of the DiRenna All-Star Games.

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