ORGANIZATION AWARDS $15,000 TO THREE AREA STUDENTS FOR
EXEMPLIFYING CLASS AND CHARACTER ON THE PLAYING FIELD
ST. LOUIS – May 18, 2017 – Leor Goldfarb, Matt Ference and Natalie Rushing are the recipients of the 2017 Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded by the St. Louis Sports Commission’s young professionals group – the Sports Commission Associates – and recognize graduating high school seniors from the region who embody outstanding sportsmanship. The three students were selected from more than 80 nominations.
Goldfarb received the top scholarship award of $10,000 in recognition of the class, humility and selflessness that were hallmarks of his participation in wrestling and lacrosse at Ladue High School. He will attend Indiana University. Ference and Rushing each received scholarship awards of $2,500.
Ference attends Lafayette High School and is enrolled at Northern Illinois University. Rushing will soon graduate from Fort Zumwalt West High School and will continue her education at the University of Kansas.
Bios highlighting all three scholarship recipients and the reasons for their selection appear later in this news release. Their photos are available at sportsmanship.org/scholarship.
The Sports Commission Associates created the Sportsmanship Scholarship in 2009 to recognize and reward local high school seniors for their integrity, civility, selflessness and compassion in athletic competition. The Associates have since awarded $75,000 to 26 college-bound students. The scholarship program supports the mission of the Sports Commission’s affiliated St. Louis Sports Foundation, which celebrates and elevates sportsmanship in the community. Candidates are evaluated strictly on their approach, character and respect for others on the playing field – athletic performance does not factor in the selection – making the scholarship unique.
In addition to choosing the recipients of the Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship, the Sports Commission Associates raise the funds to maintain the program. The group hosts an annual Trivia Night benefitting the scholarship. This year’s Trivia Night takes place on Saturday, Aug. 19 at Temple Israel in Creve Coeur. To register a team or obtain more information, call 314-345-5101. Information on the 2018 Sportsmanship Scholarship will be available next January.
The Sportsmanship Scholarship is named in honor of the late Carl Fricks, whose daughter, Holly Yoakum, chaired the Associates group and was a champion for the initiative. Sadly, Holly passed away unexpectedly earlier this year at age 40. Her generosity, leadership and friendship will be missed by the Sports Commission and the many other organizations she supported in St. Louis. It’s the intent of the Sports Commission and the Associates to honor Holly’s memory and legacy by growing the Sportsmanship Scholarship in the years ahead and carrying out her passion for doing good in the community.
2017 Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship Recipients:
The Sports Commission Associates awarded Leor Goldfarb its top Sportsmanship Scholarship honor for 2017. The Ladue varsity wrestling and lacrosse captain will receive $10,000 to begin his college education. Leor’s class, humility and selflessness eclipse any feat he has achieved on the field or on the mat. In the semifinals of the district wrestling tournament, Leor was down seven points to his opponent from Hannibal. Late in the second period, Leor was injured by an illegal slam from his opponent. The referee gave him two options: He could have his opponent disqualified for the illegal move and automatically advance to the state finals or forfeit the match and allow his opponent to advance. Leor chose to forfeit the match and let his opponent move on to state. In a letter to the Ladue superintendent, Hannibal coach Derek Greening said, “I am not sure how many individuals and coaches would make the same decision. It takes an enormous amount of character and class to make a decision like this. In 16 years of coaching, I have seen many students default for much less to guarantee themselves a win.” This is just one instance that exemplifies Leor’s sportsmanship. He’s known for being supportive of teammates and opponents alike, and as relayed by his athletic director, Leor “knows what happens in sports is greater than the outcome of the game or match being held.”
Matt Ference played football and baseball at Lafayette High School, but it is the way he channeled his talent into remarkable kindness that makes him worthy of the Sportsmanship Scholarship. Matt started the “Kick for Kel” campaign to raise funds for the Jack & J.T. Snow Foundation to fight Wolfram Syndrome, a rare form of Type I diabetes. Kel is a seventh grader and friend of Matt’s who suffers from the disease. Whenever Matt made a field goal or an extra point, punted the ball more than 40 yards, or landed a punt within the opponent’s 20-yard line, donors pledged money to the campaign. Due to Matt’s stellar punting and kicking, “Kick for Kel” raised more than $12,000 for the Snow Foundation in 2016. Matt’s head football coach, Boyd Manne, said, “I have been a coach for 25 years and have never seen an athlete show so much compassion, kindness and selflessness as Matt did for (Kel) this season.”
Natalie Rushing’s basketball skills are only exceeded by her leadership as team captain and the compassion she has for her teammates, coaches and opponents. Fort Zumwalt West girls’ basketball coach Amanda Krueger recalled Natalie’s selfless behavior in the heat of competition: “One teammate recalled Natalie stealing a ball during a game in which the opposing player was injured trying to get the ball back. Instead of taking the advantage, Natalie stopped play to make sure her opponent was OK. On another occasion, I was complaining to a referee about a call that I thought should have gone our way. Natalie pulled me aside and said it was her error and the referee was correct. This led to my subsequent apology to the referee for being a poor sport. In Natalie’s case, it is not one great act of sportsmanship that makes her worthy of this scholarship. Rather, it is her continuous display of honesty, integrity, kindness and class that makes her a very special person, worthy in every way of this great recognition.”