State Stories

03

SAWA – IHSA Football Teams Display Sportsmanship, Character & Integrity During 2015 Season

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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 2015 high school football season started in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, as an incident in a high school game in Texas made national news. However, there were great examples or sportsmanship and character by high school football teams throughout Illinois all year long. Below is a sampling of a few SAWA Reports filed by IHSA Officials during the 2015 football season:

“I just wanted to commend Coach Ernst (Lincoln-Way West) and Coach Czart (Lincoln-Way North) and all of the coaches and players for outstanding sportsmanship during the game. All too often we pick the negative things out and I really feel that they need to be recognized for the good. The game had a final score of 28-21 in overtime and never was there a problem of any kind. The coaches and players had perfect sportsmanship and displayed a respect for their opponent and the officials.”


“My football crew was doing the Mt. Zion vs. Charleston game. I am the head linesman on our crew, therefore I was on Charleston’s sideline. Before the game started I noticed some small cones on the side line, but didn't think much about it. About halfway through the game I noticed that there hadn't been any issues with players or coaches in the box during the game which is odd. I finally realized that coach put the cones down to make his players stay behind them. I also noticed that I hadn't heard much out of the coaching staff. Despite Charleston losing by a large margin, anytime there was a penalty against them, Coach Hogan was very professional about asking about the call. Prior to halftime we were awaiting a kick off when an assistant coach began to approach me to ask about a call, at which point Coach Hogan immediately came up to the coach, stopped him and made him walk away, telling the coach that he would be the only one talking to the officials. I never heard any CHS player say anything negative to the officials or their opponent. I think Coach Hogan needs to be recognized for his professionalism and the way he teaches his kids to respect officials and rules.”


“I was the linesman (Fremd sideline) in the varsity football game between Fremd and Hoffman Estates on October 9, 2015. The sportsmanship of Fremd was extraordinary and fantastic. This was a closely contested game that went into overtime. From the opening whistle to the end of overtime the staff kept everybody back and gave me lots of space to work and stayed out of my way so I could do my job. Beyond that though, the staff, from the head coach to the assistants were all great examples of sportsmanship. No player from Fremd ever raised their voices in talking to the officials on the field. Simply put, this was one of the best total team examples of excellent sportsmanship that I have seen in my 24 years as a football official in this State. Fremd should be congratulated as this sportsmanship is what high school athletics is supposed to teach to these players.”


“On a dangerously hot day with heat indexes reaching triple digits, Alton’s athletic director was as accommodating as an AD has ever been for a JV game in my 10 years of officiating football. He was instrumental in helping maintain a safe environment on the field for players, coaches and officials.”


“The football coaching staffs at York and Downers Grove North were fantastic. They showed tremendous sportsmanship through a very close and highly contested game. Whenever we had an issue they supported and respected our decisions and never overreacted or showed poor sportsmanship at any point. The staff should be commended for the example they set for the kids and the way they represented their school. They were a true class act and look forward to working their games in the future should we be lucky enough to get assigned.”


“The varsity contest began with a simple presentation that set the tone for the evening-- the Carmel Athletic Director and Head Coach walked the entire way across the field to present Benet with a donation check for the family of a young man who I learned was injured in this game one year ago. The cries of "thank you, Carmel!" from the Benet stands more than once overpowered the PA announcer. This was so much bigger than the game.”

The game itself was hard fought and often close, but more importantly was a textbook example of solid athleticism coupled with the model for human decency. When plays ended (even without a whistle) the players worked with each other to 'roll-off' and help each other up without being told to. Benet defensive players congratulated Carmel running backs on a great run with a pat on the back after making the tackle. After a sweep late in the third quarter to the near side where the Benet running back injured himself in Carmel's team box, the Carmel players on the sideline immediately backed up to create a large perimeter, got the attention of medical personnel, and put themselves silently on a knee.

All in all, it was glaringly apparent that both the teams were incredibly disciplined, which is a reflection on the coaches, teachers and parents of these student-athletes... but this wasn't just the type of discipline fueled by fear of running the next day. These kids were disciplined, hard-working and principled because they WANTED to be, and that is a reflection on each of them as individuals.

Tonight was a model for exactly what interscholastic athletics should be... and for us referees, who often have to deal with increased scrutiny, "YouTube accountability," and contests that can turn into a police action, tonight was a true breath of fresh air. Please pass along a heartfelt THANK YOU to the players, coaches, administrations, and fans of both Carmel and Benet for setting the example for all the future high school athletes in the crowd, and for re-energizing this referee.”


“Just want to comment on how respectful Coach Driscoll and his staff at Limestone was Friday night. Our Head Linesman was still talking about it on Monday how respectful the coaches and players were throughout the game. Limestone Football was a class act no matter the score.”


“Centralia's entire team and coaching staff demonstrated what is truly good about high school sports. Great sportsmanship demonstrated at a high level. It was truly a pleasure to be on the field with them.”