Boyle County High School football coach Chuck Smith said Vaught's passion for his work shows in his writing.
"You can just tell he loves what he does," said Smith. "He writes with passion and love for the sports, and he's fair and honest. You may not always like what he writes, but you know he's researched the facts, and he writes what he honestly believes. I respect him a great deal."
Sam Harp, Danville High School football coach, has worked with Vaught both in a professional manner as well as in a coach-parent relationship.
"He's always been the consummate professional," said Harp. "I'm not sure our community appreciates how respected Larry is throughout the state. I've coached in western Kentucky, Frankfort, and now here, and I can tell you, nobody gets the high school coverage that this paper and Larry Vaught give us."
Vaught joined The Advocate in 1975
Vaught, 51, joined The Advocate Jan. 6, 1975, after graduating from UK with a degree in business management. He moved to the sports department in 1979 and was promoted to assistant sports editor under his father, longtime Advocate sports editor Bill Vaught.
Larry Vaught was promoted to sports editor in June 1996.
"I'm very thankful to Enos Swain for giving me the opportunity 30 years ago, and for the opportunity (Advocate publisher) Mary Schurz continues to give me," said Vaught. "She gives me a lot of freedom to pursue what I love to do.
"It's very flattering and humbling," he added, speaking about the fact that the honor was chosen by peer voting. "I think there are a lot more writers in this state who are more deserving, but it is a big honor for me to know the other writers feel that way."
NSSA national winners this year are Joe Buck, a television and radio sportscaster, and Rick Reilly, a Sports Illustrated writer. Tony Cruise, Louisville, was named sportscaster of the year from Kentucky.
According to information from its Web site, the purpose of the NSSA is to "annually recognize the outstanding sportscasters and sportswriters from across the country for their leadership, devotion, and contributions in developing character, integrity, sportsmanship, and physical fitness among both the youth and adults of this and other nations."
The NSSA, formed in 1959, has approximately 1,000 dues-paying members and administers the NSSA Hall of Fame, founded in 1962. This year, Joe Garagiola, longtime NBC sportscaster, and Jerome Holtzman, sports writer for the Chicago Sun Times, will be inducted.