St. Louis Sports Commission’s Young Professionals Group Announces Recipients of the 2024 Sportsmanship Scholarships

ST. LOUIS – May 28, 2024 – Cameron Clayborn (Cardinal Ritter College Prep), Sahana Madala (John Burroughs School), Delaney Poropat (St. Dominic High School), Sonora Haake (Webster Groves High School), and Gabriel Kraus (St. Louis Priory School) are the recipients of the 2024 Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarships.  The scholarships are awarded by the St. Louis Sports Commission’s young professionals group – the Sports Commission Associates – and recognize high school seniors from the region who embody outstanding sportsmanship.  The five students were selected by the Associates’ scholarship committee, which reviewed dozens of nominations from throughout the St. Louis area.  

Clayborn is a graduate of Cardinal Ritter College Prep and received the top scholarship award of $10,000 in recognition of his exemplary track record of sportsmanship, selflessness, and character throughout his high school athletic career.  He will continue his education at Morehouse College.  

“Showing true sportsmanship is not about winning and losing, it is about learning and having fun through these experiences,” Clayborn said.  “Competing in sports has been a part of my life since I can remember, however, treating people with respect and dignity on and off the field are lessons I will carry throughout my entire life.”

Madala and Poropat each received $1,500 scholarships.  Madala is set to graduate from John Burroughs School and will attend Johns Hopkins University.  Poropat graduated from St. Dominic High School and plans to attend the University of Arkansas.

Haake and Kraus each received $1,000 scholarships.  Haake is a graduate of Webster Groves High School and attend Missouri State University.  Kraus graduated from St. Louis Priory School and will continue his education at Miami University (OH).

“We hear so often about what’s wrong with kids today, but these young men and women are exactly what’s right with kids today,” said Solomon Alexander, director of the St. Louis Sports Foundation.  “The tremendous example these five young people have set for their classmates, siblings, and their entire communities is worthy of significant recognition, which is what the Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship seeks to honor.”

Bios highlighting all five scholarship recipients and the reasons for their selection appear later in this release.  Their photos are available at

The Sports Commission Associates created the Sportsmanship Scholarship in 2009 to recognize and reward local high school seniors for their kindness, integrity, selflessness, and civility in athletic competition.  The Associates have since awarded more than $220,000 to 66 deserving young people.  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 Sportsmanship Scholarship unique. 

In addition to choosing the recipients of the scholarship, the Sports Commission Associates raise funds to maintain the program.  The Associates will host a golf tournament fundraiser on Saturday, July 20 at The Courses at Forest Park to support the scholarship.  More information on the golf event can be found at

The Sportsmanship Scholarship is named in honor of the late Carl Fricks, who embodied the virtues of sportsmanship.  Through this gesture, the Associates recognized the selfless efforts of Carl’s daughter, Holly Yoakum, who chaired the group and was a champion for the scholarship initiative.  Holly passed away unexpectedly in 2017, leaving so many friends and colleagues heartbroken.  The Sports Commission and the Associates are dedicated to honoring Holly’s memory and legacy by growing the Sportsmanship Scholarship and carrying out her passion for doing good in the community. 

Throughout his Cardinal Ritter College Prep athletic career in football and track and field, Cameron has established a pattern of playing hard, but keeping perspective and sportsmanship at the forefront.  No matter the circumstances, Cameron never lost sight of his sense of fair play, respect, and compassion, which made him a leader on and off the field.  Shortly before a track meet, a runner from another team was struggling with leg cramps.  Cameron noticed and went over to him helping him stretch his legs to get rid of the cramp, first by explaining to the opponent the best way to do it, then by demonstrating it.  Cameron’s coach, Earnest Cheatham, observed this and said, “It made me proud to see him use what he had learned to help someone else compete.”  At the Regional Finals, the track meet ran two hours over time pushing some events to darkness on a field with no lights.  Although Cameron was finished competing for the day, he rallied spectators to re-position their cars to shine their headlights so other competitors could compete fairly and safely, and so officials could properly mark throws.  Coach Cheatham said, “Cameron truly understands that it is not always about the win, it is about having fun, learning from each event, and helping others along the way.”  

A standout on the tennis court, Sahana prioritizes sportsmanship above all.  The John Burroughs senior developed a reputation among tennis officials for being the most honest, selfless, and gracious player they have encountered, with one commenting that Sahana “wins the right way.”  And Sahana did plenty of winning, but that came even as she made a habit of giving every close line call to her opponents.  In a sport which relies upon players making their own line calls, Sahana never wanted a questionable call to go in her favor.  Instead, she would strive to win in the fairest way possible.  And when her opponent was clearly overmatched, Sahana adjusted her style of play out of respect for the less experienced adversary and gave constant positive reinforcement or acknowledgment of her opponent’s good shots.  Her selflessness extended to another sport as she was asked to play lacrosse because the team was without a goalie.  Even though she had never played, she tried out and became the team’s starting goalie – which came at the expense of Sahana being able to compete in spring tennis tournaments that would have helped her qualify for a national tournament. 

A soccer player at St. Dominic, Delaney had numerous examples of sportsmanship deserving of this recognition, but one story stands out.  Before a game, the opposing team’s coach asked if one of their players who has Down Syndrome could play.  Delaney’s coach quickly said of course she can play and Delaney suggested for the girl to play in addition to the regular 11 players so the girl with Down Syndrome wouldn’t have to compete for playing time.  As the game went on, every time the girl with Down Syndrome got the ball, one of her teammates would take it from her in an attempt to score.  At the start of the second half, when the girl with Down Syndrome got the ball, Delaney ran next to her, “defending” her step for step, while she dribbled toward the goal, shot, and scored.  The girl celebrated the moment with a series of cartwheels and even high-fived Delaney.  More than making a memorable moment for the girl, the act of kindness had an unintended impact: After the game, the referee approached Delaney’s team and said he was thinking of quitting as a soccer official, but teams that play and act as theirs did were the reason he still enjoyed his job.  “That game was when I realized that sports were more than just a game,” Delaney said.  “Sportsmanship isn’t just saying ‘good game’ afterwards but playing with respect for your opponents and the game.  The game is only an hour, but if you play it correctly, the impact you can have on others can last a lifetime.”

Sonora is a thrower on the track and field team at Webster Groves, and according to her coach, has been a kind and patient leader since her freshman year.  Always looking to improve her discus throws, she put in hard work and enjoyed finding an edge by acquiring specially designed shoes or higher-end discs that might improve her throws.  She loved sharing her equipment with teammates so they could improve too.  But that generosity and selflessness didn’t end with her teammates.  At a district meet, Sonora offered her competitor the chance to use her specially designed disc even though that could eliminate an edge she might have otherwise had.  “If I were to have moved on to sectionals, I would have wanted to compete against athletes who were throwing at their best,” Sonora said.  “I would rather risk my advantage being lost than to beat someone who wasn’t given an equal opportunity.” 

As a captain on the Priory hockey team, Gabe exhibits all the attributes of a Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship winner.  He plays the right way every day, and is always gracious with opponents and officials, making sure to not only shake hands with the other team after a game but the referees as well.  He was never told to shake hands with the officials – he just made it a point to do after every game.  In the state championship game, Priory played and won against Lafayette.  When the final horn sounded, before celebrating with his teammates, Gabe first rushed to an opposing player, whom he knew from a previous team he played on and consoled him because it was that player’s last high school game.  Gabe’s coach, Brennan Devers said, “Although I was his coach, I learned a lot from Gabe.  His character, kindness, and selflessness are admirable, and I aspire to be like him.”