State Stories

18

IHSA Spring Sportsmanship Stories

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As a part of the IHSA Do What’s Right! Sportsmanship Program, member school personnel and licensed IHSA officials have the ability to recognize acts of exemplary sportsmanship and integrity that occur in IHSA events throughout the school year via the Sport A Winning Attitude Report (SAWA). Those who are recognized receive a special certificate from the IHSA and select SAWAs are featured here on the IHSAState website.

The following is a compilation of SAWA Reports submitted by IHSA officials from spring sports during the 2016 season:

In the top of the seventh inning in a contest versus LeRoy, Heyworth pitcher #4 Wayne Noel gave up a three-run home run to LeRoy's Ethan Bryant. A spectator threw the ball back in to the Heyworth left fielder and the ball was thrown back to Noel. Upon receiving the ball, Noel turned to LeRoy First Base Coach Mark Moberly and asked, "Coach, do you want the ball?" Moberly replied, "yes," so Noel tossed the home run ball to Coach Moberly so that it could be given to Bryant. I thought that this act of sportsmanship was deserving of recognition because despite having just given up the home run, Wayne Noel was thoughtful enough to offer the ball to Bryant through Coach Moberly as a remembrance of the home run.


With Bloomington Central Catholic on defense in the 5th inning, a player for visiting Prairie Central hit a line drive to right centerfield. Upon sliding into second base, the Prairie Central player was hit quite severely with the throw. The ball rolled away and he was in pain. I was waiting for a moment to call time. #1 for Central Catholic knew what I was waiting for and called time so that visiting player could be attended to.


Waterloo’s softball game vs. Cahokia could have been a very one-sided affair, but instead ended up 13-0. Coach Mason replaced much of his roster in the 3rd inning allowing girls to play that might not ordinarily get a chance other than as a pinch runner. In addition, on extra base hits he had his girls hold up at third in order to keep the score lower. This display of sportsmanship shows Coach Mason as a true positive representative from Waterloo HS teaching his girls what Sportsmanship is all about! Meanwhile Coach Kruse from Cahokia had a group of inexperienced girls that he has brought together and not only taught the game, but taught sportsmanship. Coach Kruse repeatedly praised his girls and remained positive despite the score. His girls were positive, picked up bats for the other team, and cheered each other on as if they were in the game. They were having fun, all due to the positive efforts of Coach Kruse.


Romeoville’s Katie Szulczyk is an exception. She showed courtesy for the entire game. I have only met a few players in my entire thirty-four years of officiating like her. The entire team showed GREAT sportsmanship.


I was working as the base umpire for the first round game of the WJOL tournament between Joliet Central and Plainfield Central. The game was being played at Providence Catholic. There is a spot in left center where a net screen meets the outfield fence and makes it difficult to judge if a ball has left the field or hit off the fence. In the second inning, with Joliet Central on offense, they began to score runs. With the score 4-0 and one runner on, the ball was hit to the fence in left center. I judged the ball to have stayed in the park, which made the hit a double instead of a two-run home run. Although obviously upset because Joliet Central thought they had a home run, Coach Kevin Fitzgerald was calm and asked for an explanation. He did not agree with me, but continued to coach the game in a positive way and did not press the issue any further. This was a big game and a big play and I felt Coach Fitzgerald deserved recognition for handling this situation the correct way.


I would like to recommend Decatur St. Teresa's Mac Handley for a sportsmanship award. In a tightly contested game, Mac made what appeared to be a spectacular diving catch of a ball hit to left field. I was the plate umpire and since there were no runners on base, I had the responsibility of ruling "catch" or "no catch" on the ball. Mac dove and gathered the ball in his glove, however, when he hit the ground I observed the ball momentarily come out of his glove and hit the ground. Mac quickly put his glove over the top of the ball and was able to pick the ball up with his glove. This led the St. Teresa coaches and fans to believe they had just witnessed a highlight reel catch. However, having observed the ball come out of the glove and hit the ground, I immediately and emphatically started signaling and stating "no catch, no catch, no catch." The batter ended up at second base and then St. Teresa Head Coach JD Arnold asked for time and came out on the field to question my ruling. Although he did not agree with my call, Coach Arnold stated he was going to ask his player in between innings if he caught the ball and he then headed back to his dugout. As Coach Arnold came out to coach third in the bottom half of the inning, he stopped briefly to inform me that his player, Mac Handley, had admitted he did not catch the ball. I told Coach Arnold that I was very impressed with his player's honesty. I believe this speaks highly of this young man's integrity and character and therefore, I believe he is deserving of a sportsmanship award.


I worked the Illinois Lutheran tournament on Saturday, April 16. In the championship game between Illinois Lutheran and Walther Christian we had one of those games where many unusual things occurred. We had a batter hit by a pitch that was very close to the batter allowing the ball to hit them, we had a force play slide infraction, and we had a straight steal of home. All of these calls went against Illinois Lutheran. Coach Mark Kjenstad was calm as we discussed each of these plays. He was open to listening to our rulings. I also witnessed a coach with a real care for his players. He was positive and encouraging as he coached his team. When players made a mistake he corrected them in a positive way. It was refreshing to see someone coach in this way.


I am commending Manteno baseball coach Andy Zurales and Reed-Custer’s coach Jerry Cougill, as well as both schools’ teams & fans, for an outstanding performance on the field and in the stands. If I were to write a script on what high school baseball should be, I could do no better than yesterday's game between these two schools. An exceptional game, exhibiting respect for teammates, opponents, fans and officials. The coaches need to be commended for guiding their players to "being the best they can be, doing the right thing & treating others as they would like to be treated." I commend the players for following their coaches lead & the fans for the positive support of these young men & their coaches. I was honored & privileged to be a part of this very positive experience.


In a tight game with charged up emotions between two conference rivals, there was a very close play at second base, with UHIGH player Ryan Poland trying to steal. He slid to the back-side of the bag and clearly beat the throw. However, as he came up, he popped off the bag momentarily and I called him out. His coach disputed the call because he didn't see him pop off the base. Ryan never disputed the call and as he ran by me off the field said "that was a good call". I can't recall a player doing that to me in my umpiring career.


During a game in May, #23 for Rockford Auburn High School had a great attitude despite his team being down 10-0 in the first inning and losing the game by slaughter rule. He talked with myself, the umpire, in between multiple innings, showed enthusiasm, and was nice to multiple players from the other team. Overall he displayed a winning attitude during the entire game.