Albert Pujols
PujolsAlbert Pujols is a hero.  He doesn't have to hit another home run. He doesn't have to win another World Series.  He doesn't even have to get another hit.  On Aug. 7, Pujols did what some may consider impossible. He made the professional athlete a regular person again. In the seventh inning against the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, a Cardinals fan fell over the first base barrier while reaching for a foul ball.  The man landed awkwardly on his head and suffered a bad cut on his forehead.  Medical personnel attended to the man as expected. But in the midst of the white shirts and bandages, there was a...a player?  Yes, Pujols was right alongside the man.  The reigning National League MVP and Cardinals All-Star first baseman did not leave the man's side.  He talked to the man and his son, who also attended the game, for more than 10 minutes. Pujols did not leave the scene until medical staff transported the man off the field and to the hospital.  His commitment to family and community reaches far beyond the aforementioned incident.  The eight-time All-Star started the Pujols Family Foundation in 2005 along with wife Deidre to provide support to people with Down syndrome and their families.  Pujols is also known for his humanitarian efforts in his native Dominican Republic.  He has taken several trips accompanied by a team of doctors and dentists to provide care for those in need.  In 2008, Pujols won the Roberto Clemente Award.  The honor is given annually to the Major League Baseball player who “combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.”  Parents, coaches, and other caring adults should tell the story of Albert Pujols – a man of great talent and even greater character.

Albert Pujols is the recipient of Major League Baseball’s 2008 Roberto Clemente Award.

Azusa Pacific University

Fire evokes fear and anxiety.  Fire has destructive power.  Fire also has the power to reveal the strength of a foundation.  When a building burns to the ground, the foundation remains.  The foundation on which people are built can be revealed by fire as well. Westmont College (Santa Barbara, Calif.) was scheduled to play Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, Calif.) in the finals of the Golden State Athletic Conference Men's Soccer Championship.  The winner would earn a spot in the 2008 NAIA Men's Soccer Championship.  Less than 48 hours before the November 2008 matchup, Azusa Pacific learned that Westmont College had fallen victim to vicious California wildfires. The inferno took the homes of the Westmont coach and several faculty members, and caused severe damage to the campus of 1,300 students.  Many students, including members of the soccer team, were left with just the clothes on their backs.  Azusa Pacific could have won the game by forfeit.  The team could have taken the easy route to a paper victory. However, Azusa Pacific showed the character worthy of the national championship it captured in 2007.  School officials immediately postponed the match and sought to help their would-be opponents in a time of need.   The entire Westmont team was invited onto the Azusa Pacific campus.  Room and board were provided to the team free of charge.  Free admission to the game was also granted to the Westmont student body.  When the two teams finally took the field, a rejuvenated Westmont College defeated Azusa Pacific 2-0 and clinched a berth in the 2008 NAIA Men's Soccer Championship.  While the loss undoubtedly stings, it pales in comparison to the burden of regret.  Members of the Azusa Pacific family will have no regrets as they allowed their character to shine brighter than the polish on any trophy.

Azusa Pacific University is the recipient of the NAIA’s “All That’s Right in Sport” award.

DeKalb High School Boys Basketball Team

Rivalries usually have three elements: proximity (either geographically or in-conference), competitiveness, and general dislike between teams.  There is the rare exception dubbed friendly rivalry.  DeKalb High School (DeKalb, Ill.) and Milwaukee Madison High School (Milwaukee, Wis.) have this type of rivalry. The schools had already planned to get together for pizza after their game.  As final game preparations were being made, tragedy struck the Milwaukee Madison family.  Senior captain Johntel Franklin lost his mother earlier on game day after a five-year battle with cervical cancer. Milwaukee Madison head coach Aaron Womack wanted to cancel the February contest.  Franklin encouraged his coach to go on with the game as scheduled.  He did not want his teammates to miss playing.  Milwaukee Madison and DeKalb took the court and played a spirited first quarter.  Early in the second quarter, however, something unexpected happened.  Johntel Franklin walked into the gym.  He had come straight from the hospital.  Womack immediately called a time out and players and fans rushed to hug their senior captain.  Franklin was invited to sit on the bench but declined.  He wanted to play.  This created an issue with the rules.  Womack did not expect him to play. So he did not include Franklin on the pre-game roster.  A technical foul had to be assessed for him to play.  DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman intervened and asked the referees to set the rule aside and let Franklin play, but the referees had to enforce the technical foul. When Rohlman asked for volunteers to shoot the free throws, Darius McNeal stepped up.  As DeKalb’s senior captain, McNeal knew the situation and followed his coach's unspoken instructions.  He intentionally missed both free throws.  One of the shots traveled just two feet in front of the line.  Sometimes the greatest acts of giving occur in the greatest times of loss.  Missing two free throws allowed Darius McNeal and the DeKalb basketball team to hit the true target; the one that scores points for respect, class and sportsmanship.

The DeKalb High School Boys Basketball Team is being recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Grapevine Faith High School Football Team

People make mistakes.  Children are people.  They make mistakes. Some mistakes cause harm to others. What happens to the children who make those kinds of mistakes?  Juvenile correctional facilities all over the country are filled with young people who have made regrettable mistakes.  Do those kids get to do the things that other kids do?  Yes and no.  While many will never attend senior prom, many still have the opportunity to participate in sports.  Such is the case at Gainesville State School.  Gainesville is a maximum-security youth correctional facility located 75 miles north of Dallas.  Last fall, Grapevine Faith High School hosted Gainesville for a regular-season football game.  Gainesville plays all of its games on the road due to security concerns and logistical issues.  So, the team never has the support of home fans.  Grapevine Faith coach Kris Hogan decided to make a positive change in favor of Gainesville.  Hogan encouraged fans to form a spirit line that stretched 40 yards for Gainesville players to run through during introductions.  He went a step further and had 200 Grapevine Faith fans sit on the visitor's side to cheer for Gainesville.  After the game, Gainesville coach Mark Williams found Hogan and said, "You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight.  You'll never, ever know."  Hogan knew what he was doing.  He restored a sense of belonging to the Gainesville players.  Hogan let them know that despite their situation, people still care.  On that night, they were not visitors, outcasts, nor the enemy.  They were just kids...playing football.

The Grapevine Faith High School Football Team is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.

Monte Vista High School
Barriers exist in all walks of life.  Some are physical, others are mental, and the rest are metaphorical. The Great Wall of China represents a physical barrier.  Fear of the dark represents a mental barrier.  Money represents a metaphorical barrier.  The actual physical makeup of money cannot withstand outside force at all. Money can be ripped, folded, or crumpled with minimal effort.  Yet money is among the greatest barriers between people and success.  In the California high school basketball playoffs last March, McClymonds High School defeated Monte Vista High School to advance to the state championship.  No other team had been able to keep McClymonds from a shot at winning a third straight championship.  The team won titles in 2007 and 2008 and seemed well on its way in 2009. Unfortunately, that's when the money barrier suddenly appeared. McClymonds High School is located in a working class section of West Oakland.  The school district informed McClymonds officials that funds were unavailable to send the team to the state championship in Sacramento. Players would be responsible for their own transportation and accommodations.  When the news reached Bill Powers, the coach at Monte Vista, he took action.  Powers e-mailed the parents of students in the school’s athletic programs who had participated in state playoff games and asked for donations.  The parents and student-athletes at Monte Vista raised $1,100 to help McClymonds make the trip.  Monte Vista and McClymonds had been rivals on the court. Nonetheless, the Monte Vista parents realized something far more important. Success can only be achieved when preparation meets opportunity.  They helped tear down the barrier keeping the McClymonds team from achieving its goal.  The parents and students of Monte Vista recognized that we all win when young people succeed.

Monte Vista High School is being recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Ohio State University

On Sept. 5, Ohio State opened its 2009 football season against Navy.  This home opener would be different from the rest.  Usually, visiting players to Ohio Stadium face an intimidating scene when they run out of the tunnel before 100,000-plus loyal Buckeye fans.  But on this day, the visitors were cheered.  Leading up to the game, the Ohio State athletic department encouraged fans to stand and applaud the Navy players as they took the field.  The university circulated an online video that read:  “Buckeyes know there are some things more important than football…service to your country and respecting and appreciating those who serve.”  At halftime, former Ohio senator and U.S. Navy pilot John Glenn was given the privilege of "dotting the I" with the OSU alumni band.  The honor is considered the greatest distinction the band can bestow on any non-band member.  The university went further and encouraged other programs that were playing service academies throughout the season to conduct similar tributes.  Ohio State showed a great deal of respect, admiration, and gratitude to those who toil on the real battlefields long after football is over.

Ohio State University is being recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

Courtney Teatro

Courtney Teatro coaches athletes.  She meets them where they are.  Then she helps them realize their potential through instruction and encouragement.  Teatro teaches elementary and secondary physical education for the Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, Ariz.  She also serves as the head cross country and track and field coach at Red Mountain High School.  Sportsmanship is a lifestyle she shares not only with her own athletes, but with every young person she encounters.  Teatro once witnessed a coach leave his last runner behind to move on and coach the runners ahead.  Even though all of her runners were done, Teatro went back to coach the girl from the other team.  It was important for the girl to finish the race and have support in the process.  Teatro believes that any athlete can be successful if given the chance.  Such is the case of a student who wanted to race but did not fit the typical athletic mold.  The student had a cognitive disability and her mother was not sure she would be allowed to compete.  Teatro accepted the girl and the young athlete ascended to the No. 8 position on Red Mountain's cross country team.  Teatro also has a stellar reputation that extends far beyond the track.  Her conflict resolution and interpersonal skills have helped de-escalate situations among parents, athletes and coaches.  A former athlete describes Teatro as "a role model, a mentor and major motivator in my life."  She credits Teatro with helping her through some very difficult moments.  Although Teatro has a tremendous impact on athletes off the track, she is also a great coach on the track.  She has coached multiple region and Arizona state champions.  Several of her students also have gone on to earn national titles on the collegiate level, as well.  Teatro motivates athletes to be better citizens, better students and better people.  She is a coach in the purest sense.

Courtney Teatro is being recognized by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Anthony DiCarlo

Anthony DiCarlo possesses sight far beyond his eyes. The Anderson University (Anderson, S.C.) wrestler normally competes at 141 pounds, but agreed to wrestle in the 157-pound weight class to fill in for an injured teammate.  His match against an opponent from the University of Central Missouri was the deciding factor in the dual meet last season.  DiCarlo's opponent had built a substantial lead, but the Anderson University senior remained focused.  He fought his way back into the match.  With about a minute left, DiCarlo was a takedown away from securing a win for himself and his team when the Central Missouri wrestler suffered injuries to both eyes, making him vulnerable to attack.  DiCarlo did not seize the opportunity.  He refused to execute any offensive moves on his seemingly helpless opponent.  Time expired with Central Missouri getting the win.  DiCarlo said, “It was one of those matches where things didn’t go my way and I didn’t win, but if someone is able to see a demonstration of sportsmanship in it then I’m thankful for that.”  DiCarlo's actions are a living embodiment of the motto "safety first."  He has been a living example of sportsmanship during his time at Anderson.  According to wrestling coach Dock Kelly, “Anthony exhibits every aspect of what sportsmanship embodies on and off the wrestling mat.  He has always represented our program, as well as Anderson University in the best manner possible.  I am both blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to coach Anthony for the past four years.”

Anthony DiCarlo is the recipient of the NCAA’s Sportsmanship Award.

Aleksandra Mackiewicz

Sports do not always present black and white scenarios. There is not always a winner and a loser. Sometimes, athletes just want to be part of a team. Wins and losses become a concern only after they get the chance to compete. Senior Charlotte Rose and sophomore Aleksandra (Ola) Mackiewicz of Brown University were trying to be part of a team.  Throughout the year, both switched back and forth between the third and fourth starter position on the fencing team. The end of the regular season came and Brown had a problem.  Four women's sabers had qualified for the NCAA regional tournament, but only three athletes per team are allowed to attend and compete in the event. Mackiewicz clinched the third starter spot in the final regular season competition.  This left Rose on the outside looking in. Mackiewicz was excited, but didn't feel quite right about the opportunity.  Rose had been a dedicated member of the team during her time at Brown and had never had the chance to compete in an NCAA regional.  Mackiewicz went to the coaching staff and proposed that Rose take the third starter position in her place.  “This is the epitome of putting the team and teammates before oneself, which I believe to be the essence of a great athlete,” Rose said.  According to her teammates, Mackiewicz always maintains a positive attitude no matter the situation.  She is a calming influence on her team.  Instead of allowing her teammates to get frustrated with a loss, Mackiewicz tells them how to fix their mistakes.  Brown coach Atilio Tass said, “Just by asking to give her very precious spot to the regional championship to a senior teammate demonstrates an immense amount of respect and caring for the team over the individual.  The depth of her honesty and integrity manifests itself infinitely.”

Aleksandra Mackiewicz is the recipient of the NCAA’s Sportsmanship Award.

Geofrey Kalanzi

Geofrey Kalanzi of Dakota County Technical College (Rosemount, Minn.) has overcome many obstacles in his life.  He has shown the ability to persevere through difficult circumstances.  The Kampala, Uganda, native lost both of his parents to AIDS at the age of 13.  This left him and his siblings homeless, hungry and alone.  Their fortunes took a turn for the better when they met David and Aimee Kyambadde. The Kyambadde's took the children into their Home Again orphanage and gave them the love and support they needed.  Aimee Kyambadde met Dakota County Technical College coach Cam Stoltz while on a return trip to her native Minnesota.  From this meeting, Kalanzi and his brother Moses were awarded scholarships to play soccer at DCTC. On the soccer field, Kalanzi voluntarily moved to goalkeeper during his first season in 2007 after the team was plagued with injuries.  He covered goal in 21 games with 171 saves and allowed an average of 2.29 goals per game.  His unselfish commitment to the team earned him the Blue Knight Award, DCTC’s highest athletic honor.  Kalanzi went back to his more familiar position of midfielder in 2008 and excelled.  He had 18 points with seven goals and four assists. Kalanzi also was named Academic All-Region both of his years on campus with a 3.91 cumulative G.P.A.  In addition to his efforts on the field and in the classroom, Kalanzi works tirelessly to educate others about widespread poverty and the devastating effects of AIDS on his homeland.  The Business Marketing major is furthering his education and soccer career at College of St. Scholastica (NCAA Division III) in Duluth, Minn.  He plans to ultimately return to Uganda to start his own orphanage.  Cam Stoltz, Kalanzi’s coach at DCTC, said, “Geofrey was an ideal student for our program because of the balance and scope of excellence he brings to everything he does… We know that we are a better college for having enrolled him as a student.”

For his commitment to the values of sportsmanship, leadership, community service and academic excellence coupled with athletic ability and achievement, Geofrey Kalanzi is the recipient of the NJCAA’s Lea Plarski Award.

Shawn Crawford

Truly great people are not defined by what they take but by what they give.  American sprinter Shawn Crawford took a giant leap toward greatness at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. As a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Crawford had taken the victory lap and heard the roar of the crowd before. He earned another opportunity four years later in the finals of the 200-meters.  Crawford finished fourth, but was awarded the silver medal. The second- and third-place finishers had committed lane violations and were disqualified.  Crawford felt he had not earned the silver medal and that it rightfully belonged to Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles. Martina would have placed second had it not been for the disqualification.  At a track meet in Zurich the week after the Beijing Games, Martina received a package at his hotel.  It was from Crawford.  Inside the package was the silver medal and a note that read, "Churandy, I know I can't replace the moment, but I wanted you to have this because I believe it's rightfully yours. - Shawn Crawford." Humility occurs when a person's ego sits down and his character stands up.  Shawn Crawford allowed his character to stand boldly.

Shawn Crawford is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.

New York Yankees

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.  This statement applies to the New York Yankees.  The players who have worn the uniform are nothing short of legendary.  Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Jackson only start the list.  Players like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez are trying to etch their names into Yankee lore.  It was a night in July, however, that made the current group of Yankees a team for the ages.  Caren and Dan Mahar founded Camp Sundownfor kids with the rare disease known as XP – xeroderma pigmentosum.  XP causes sunlight to be extremely harmful.  Kids with XP have a 2,000-fold increased risk of skin cancer, precancerous tumors,and eye and mouth tumors.  Most won't live to be 20.  Yankees Media Relations Director Jason Zillo invited the kids from Camp Sundown to watch the team take on the Oakland A's at Yankee Stadium.  Fluorescent lighting is also dangerous for the kids, so even attending a night game was a little tricky.  Zillo guided his young guests into their VIP suite to watch the game.  After watching a Yankees 6-3 victory, it was on to the real fun.  The lights were dimmed to 30 percent, and Yankee Stadium was transformed into a carnival of wiffle ball games, frisbees, clowns and magicians – all for the kids from Camp Sundown.  The kids took batting practice with A.J. Burnett, played games with Jeter and were even serenaded by Yankees GM Brian Cashman.  Yankees catcher Jorge Posada spoke about the importance of being involved with Camp Sundown.  "We're baseball players; that's all we do for our lives.  I couldn't imagine not being able to do that.  What we're doing here, even at 2 o'clock in the morning, the kids are smiling and having fun at Yankee Stadium – it's great to see."  The carnival went on until just before 4 a.m., when the kids had to reboard their buses to make it back to camp before daybreak.  Dan Mahar wants this experience at Yankee Stadium to be one his kids can look back upon when they need it most.  "What these children take with them will probably come out years from now, hopefully.  They'll look back and remember what it felt like – at least for one night – to be loved and accepted by the whole world."

The New York Yankees are being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.


Minneapolis South High School Nordic Ski Team

The Nordic ski team from Southwest High School in Minneapolis was preparing for a sectional in February when the coaching staff recognized a serious problem.  Libby Ellis, the team's best and the state's second-ranked skier, had not competed in enough races to qualify for sectionals.  To compound the issue further, Ellis was in Norway.  Tony Aspholm, the coach at South High School – Southwest’s arch rival – learned about Ellis' dilemma and wanted to help.  Aspholm organized his team quickly for an impromptu meet with Southwest. This was significant because Aspholm's South High team had competed earlier that same day.  The last-minute competition would give Ellis the necessary number of races to compete in sectionals.  There was still the problem of getting Ellis home from Norway.  Ellis arrived in Newark at 2 p.m. only to find out her connection to Minneapolis had been cancelled.  She finally landed in Minneapolis at 9:30 p.m. and immediately headed to Theodore Wirth Park.  There, her Southwest High teammates and her opponents from South High stood ready.  The competition began at 10:30 p.m. with a temperature of minus 4 degrees.  The two teams completed the meet less than 12 hours prior to the start of sectionals.  Ellis went on to win at sectionals and qualified for the state meet.  Sacrifice is giving up something for something greater.  In this case, the South and Southwest teams saw something great in Libby Ellis.  Their sacrifice validated her victory; proving that even individual achievements require a team effort.

The Minneapolis South High School Nordic Ski Team is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.

Maryville University Baseball Team

There is no "I" in team, but there is always me.  The previous statement appears to be one of bravado, but quite the contrary.  Teams are made up of individuals who come together to achieve a common goal.  Teams do not form themselves. Like-minded people must focus on a common cause.  The Maryville University baseball team was formed to win games and represent its institution in the best way possible.  What the Maryville players did for one of their own, expresses the true meaning of team.  In February, senior Tyler Schmitz and his family were the victims of a horrible fire that destroyed their home in Festus, Mo.  Schmitz previously was looking forward to his final season at Maryville.  He posted a 3-3 mark as a relief pitcher in 2008 and was looking to improve during his senior campaign.  Instead, Schmitz took on two part-time jobs and an internship to help his family.  When it became clear that Schmitz did not have time to play baseball, he thought he would have to hang up his cleats.  His teammates wanted to help; juniors Greg Schwartz and Adam Boyer took the lead.  The two came up with the idea of a fundraiser for Schmitz and his family.  Team members wore their jerseys to a Maryville basketball doubleheader and collected loose change in their batting helmets.  They also walked around campus over the next several days soliciting donations for their teammate.  The team raised $1,750 for the Schmitz family.  Boyer and Schwartz went further and met with university officials to see what else could be done.  Maryville provided free tuition for the semester, enabling Schmitz to cut down to one job and rejoin the team.  At a time when selfishness would be understood, Schmitz himself practiced humility.  He told his coach, "I want to come back, but I want you to talk to the team to see if it's ok if I come back.  I haven't been with the team the past couple weeks and I don't want to barge in and take someone's spot who's been working really hard."  This type of unselfish attitude is what made Schmitz's teammates proud to help in the first place.  He did not disappoint on the field, either.  Schmitz was 1-1 in nine relief appearances for the Saints.  Maryville went on to post a 22-18 record and finish second in the conference; proving teamwork yields success on and off the field.

The Maryville University Baseball Team is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.

Aeneas Williams


Some words are spoken by men, others are lived by them.  Former St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams lives the words on the Bart Starr Award he won in 2000.  Williams "best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community."  The eight-time Pro-Bowler made an instant impact when acquired by the Rams on draft day in 2001.  He led a resurgent defense to complement an already potent offense.  The Rams finished a franchise best 14-2 during the regular season, blazing a trail to a Super Bowl appearance.  Williams finished a stellar career with 55 interceptions and nine defensive touchdowns.  The New Orleans native and Southern University graduate made St. Louis his home after retiring in 2004.  Some athletes enjoy a quiet retirement away from the community at-large.  This was not the case with Williams.  He and his wife Tracy started Spirit of the Lord Family Church in 2007.  The St. Louis area congregation unites Williams' message of realizing personal potential with the mission of "raising up a wise and understanding people."  Williams believes his faith coupled with his playing experiences can help change lives.  He has counseled teammates, other players and even coaches through tough times.  Former Rams coach Mike Martz said talking with Williams helped him get through the team’s loss in Super Bowl XXXVI.  “He’s the one guy I trust completely to be absolutely honest with me,” Martz said.  Williams is the very picture of sportsmanship – a portrait painted with the colors of respect, courage, selflessness, and concern for others.


Aeneas Williams is the St. Louis Rams’ 2009 AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards honoree.  Past Rams award recipients include Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marc Bulger and Chris Draft.

Trent Ross

The St. Louis Sports Commission Associates – a group of area young professionals who volunteer to assist the organization’s efforts created a Sportsmanship Scholarship, intended to be awarded annually to a graduating high school senior from the St. Louis area who has consistently demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship in athletic competition.  The $2,500 scholarship is presented to a deserving individual who exemplifies the values of sportsmanship: honesty, integrity, selflessness, kindness and class.  Proceeds from a fundraiser produced by the Associates earlier this year provided funding for the inaugural scholarship.  A recent generous gift by Tony Thompson, president and CEO of KWAME Building Group, ensures that the Associates’ Sportsmanship Scholarship will continue to be awarded in future years.  The Associates congratulate Trent Ross, recipient of the inaugural Sportsmanship Scholarship.

Trent Ross of Troy, Ill., is the recipient of the inaugural St. Louis Sports Commission Associates’ Sportsmanship Scholarship.  A freshman at Western Illinois University, Ross was an outstanding student-athlete during his four years at Triad High School.  He captained the varsity track and field and cross country teams, and also played on the junior varsity soccer team.  Perhaps the most remarkable attribute of this young man is the attitude he has toward opponents.  At the end of every race, Ross thanks and congratulates each of his fellow competitors no matter where he finishes.  It takes tremendous character to congratulate someone who just beat you.  Moreover, it requires a humble spirit to encourage those who finish after you without being condescending.  Races can also be exhausting.  Ross helps those runners off the ground and allows them to lean on him until they catch their breath.  His commitment to sportsmanship does not end on the track.  Ross uses social media to keep in contact with his fellow competitors.  They encourage and congratulate each other via e-mail and Facebook.  Triad cross country coach Andy Brendel said, “In my seven years of coaching high school sports, I have yet to see an athlete display such a high level of sportsmanship.”  Brian Weiss, the school’s track and field coach, said Ross “displays a unique combination of exceptional natural talent, superior motivation, character beyond reproach, and a dynamic spirit, all of which elevate him, in my mind, into the top one percent of athletes and students that I have had the opportunity of teaching and coaching.”  To all that, Ross replies that while he’s honored to be nominated by his coaches, he doesn’t think he did anything special.  “To me, doing what I do for other competitors at races is just how I was raised and that is not anything out of the ordinary,” he says.

Jace Kuyper

Jace Kuyper is a freshman at Arizona State University.  A graduate of Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Jace earned regional scholar athlete awards for both golf and basketball.  He was the starting guard on the school’s state championship basketball team and a four-year varsity golf letterman.  He also received the Josh Conrad Scholarship, which is awarded to the student-athlete who most exemplifies character, leadership and integrity.  In the spring, Jace was asked to write an essay on what pursuing victory with honor meant to him.  His response came as a result of participating in many years of recreational and competitive sports.  During his senior year, he fought through the pain of a torn groin muscle and third degree burns on his chest.  He never missed a game or practice, and never complained.  Jace’s father, Tom, played basketball at Arizona State and has coached at the high school and collegiate level.  He is an analyst for Sun Devil basketball games on TV and radio, and a columnist for the Arizona Republic.  In one of his weekly “Kids in Sports” columns, he included Jace’s essay.  The words in the essay capture the essence of sportsmanship.  The AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards salutes Jace for his inspiring response and commendable approach in life and athletics.

Pursuing victory with honor means you consider others to be more important than yourself.  There is no honor in fighting your way to the top if you have trampled on others to get there.  You fight through adversity, giving it your all; making no excuses and no complaints.

When you’re injured, you make the necessary adjustments, fighting through the pain and using what is left with more vigor.  When all the odds seem against you, you buckle down and focus on what you have to work with, not looking for excuses, but looking for the way to get it done with integrity and honor.

If the officials call a tight game, you adjust your game, backing off a little; if their style is loose, you can play a little more aggressively.  Complaining about the officials only creates frustration for everyone.  You exhort your teammates, knowing that by lifting them up and making them look better, the team succeeds, and everyone wins.

It’s important in victory to be gracious; affirming the other team’s efforts, not gloating, but preparing mentally and physically for the next game.

At practice, you don’t count down the minutes until it’s over, but you are fully engaged, working every bit as hard as you would in a game.Leaving out honor in the pursuit of victory is not true victory, just one empty win soon forgotten.  Honor is what lasts and those who pursue it are the truly victorious.

Jared Ingram

The St. Louis Sports Commission Associates – a group of area young professionals who volunteer to assist the organization’s efforts – annually present the Good Sport Award at the AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards.  This award recognizes a St. Louis area youth or high school athlete who demonstrates the ideals and very meaning of sportsmanship through a specific act or overall approach.  Nominations were accepted leading up to the event.  The Associates are pleased to present the 2009 Good Sport Award to Jared Ingram.

Jared Ingram is the recipient of the 2009 Good Sport Award.  His act of sportsmanship qualifies as extraordinary.  Ingram was an alternate for his St. Louis Express 4x400-meter relay team at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines last July.  He was tapped to run in the finals when a teammate was injured in the semifinals. Although the 4x400 was not one of his usual events, he assisted his team in clinching a medal with hard work and determination.  Ingram would have been within his rights to keep the medal and celebrate with his teammates.  However, the McCluer High School sophomore showed amazing selflessness.  Without hesitation, Ingram gave the coveted medal to his injured teammate who would have run in the final.  He showed the world that true victory is being able to raise someone else's hand.




Citizenship Through Sports Alliance Members