TAMPA — A stroll through the hallways of Plant High in south Tampa reveals floors worn by countless footsteps.
A lot of great athletes have moved through these corridors — Wade Boggs, Mike Williams and Robert Marve come to mind.
Since the doors opened in 1926, many others have helped fill a huge trophy case at the school's entrance.
And in the gymnasium, opposite the wall of an imposing mural of a black panther is another covered in black banners. Each is stitched with gold lettering that celebrates team accolades for one of the bay area's strongest athletic programs.
Plant can add one more banner to the wall after winning the St. Petersburg Times' All-Sports Award for the 2008-09 school year, given to the top athletic program in our four-county area (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando).
Plant also won in 2008, 2002 and 1991. The award celebrates the success of a school's athletic program in postseason play.
"To be honest with the year that we've had it was not surprising to me," Plant athletic director Laura Figueredo said. "This is my ninth year in my position and this is probably the most success our sports teams have experienced."
Some of the program's highlights from the past school year:
• The football team won the Class 4A state title, its second in three seasons.
• The volleyball team won the Class 5A state title, its third straight championship and sixth this decade.
• The girls tennis team won the Class 3A state title, the first team title in program history.
• The girls swim team placed third at the Class 2A state meet.
• Boys cross country was sixth in the Class 3A state meet.
• The baseball team reached the Class 5A state final four, its first state berth since 1990.
• Girls tennis player Amber Li reached the overall singles final at state.
• Pitcher Mychal Givens was selected in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft.
• Aaron Murray and Orson Charles signed football scholarships to play at Georgia.
• Murray also was named the Class 4A Florida Dairy Farmers football player of the year.
Figueredo said the award says a lot about the kids and coaches, and how well they work together.
"It's a great place to work and our coaches go above and beyond what's expected of them," Figueredo said. "… They work during the offseason and in season. I think that shows on the court, on the field and in the classroom."
Figueredo also stressed having strong academics, which was validated with Plant claiming Hillsborough County's comprehensive award for spring with the top grade point average (3.488).
"That just shows not only are they producing on the field or the court, but also in the classroom," Figueredo said. "That's probably even more important than producing outside. That can take them further than anything else and open more doors for them.
"They could be the greatest athlete, but if they can't make it in school nobody will want them."
Staff writer Keith Niebuhr contributed to this report. Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3458.