IHSA Winter Sportsmanship Stories

State Stories


IHSA Winter 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 an updating compilation of SAWA Reports submitted by IHSA officials from winter sports during the 2016-17 season:

The Pekin vs. North Chicago boys basketball game in the Adam Lopez Country Financial Lanphier Thanksgiving Tournament was a good close game with outstanding sportsmanship shown by both sides. Whenever a player was on the floor players from both teams helped him up. Though it was a close hard fought contest, coaches and players on both teams represented themselves very well. It was a fun game to officiate, good basketball with both teams displaying outstanding sportsmanship from start to finish.

During the 5th round of competition at the Antioch tournament, one of St. Francis Wrestling Coach Dan Page's wrestlers was lifted and returned to the mat resulting in an illegal slam being called. The wrestler was not allowed to continue because of precautionary measures. The move was clearly not intentional, but accidental. After speaking with Coach Page, he injury defaulted to the other wrestler from Wheeling. He indicated there was no intentional action and he believed the other wrestler was likely to win the match. Myself and the Wheeling coaches thanked him for his sportsmanlike behavior. I have had the opportunity to watch the St Francis wrestling team over the past years and witness them grow from three or four wrestlers to a full squad. The school and coaching staff is doing it right. Both days, coaches, wrestlers and fans were a pleasure to work for.

During the boys varsity basketball game between Father McGivney and Greenfield, the game was coming down to free throws. With Greenfield ahead and Father McGivney fouling to try and get the ball back after free throws, one of the players from Greenfield was at the line to shoot what would be a free throw that would put the game out of reach. After the player made the shot Alex Loeffler turned to the player and told him nice shoot. I thought that was a great display of sportsmanship to say that to an opposing player with the game on the line.

It is not often that we are lucky enough to view true sportsmanship. Especially the type of sportsmanship that was exhibited by an entire gymnasium on Tuesday night. Hutsonville was hosting the Red Hill Salukis in varsity boys basketball. With less than a minute to go in the game, and with Red Hill being the obvious winner, Red Hill substituted a special needs player into the game. They were able to take possession of the ball with around 45 seconds remaining. They moved the ball quickly to their end and gave it to this happy young man. He positioned himself behind the 3-point arch and started shooting. They rebounded and gave it to him again and again. Knowing what it would mean for him to score, the Hutsonville players stayed well behind him and actually cheered him on with everyone else in attendance including the three of us. They allowed him to attempt to score until time expired. Even though he was unsuccessful, he received a wonderful ovation and a pat on the back from a Hutsonville player. It was truly heartwarming to witness.

Good sportsmanship is the most important aspect of any contest. In the sport of wrestling, there are times in which matches will get intense and heated requiring all involved to demonstrate good sportsmanship. In order for athletes to display this, it is imperative for a coach to teach them what good sportsmanship is: playing by the rules, respecting opponents and officials, and putting hard work over winning. This weekend, Conant Coach Chad Hay demonstrated the qualities and conduct of good sportsmanship that will be remembered by athletes, spectators, and event staff through his actions and interactions. His supportive coaching and celebrating the successes of his athletes should be applauded.

I am a retired administrator, teacher, Athletic Director, and coach, and a practicing official in three sports. I would like to make a general observation regarding Southeastern High School boys basketball Coach Brett Ufkes based on my dealings with his teams over the past three years. I find the coaches mannerisms, knowledge, attitude and work ethic to be above reproach. He is a professional on the court at all times, choosing to "coach" his players rather than argue with officials. Regardless of the situation or impending outcome, I have seen Brett continue to enthusiastically coach his players, consistently making the proper moves when necessary. Having coached myself for over 20 years I can confidently say that his teachings go well beyond the court. It is truly refreshing to see a young coach display such leadership.

Dupo High School's Kelvin Swims displayed exceptionally good sportsmanship and poise during a recent contest. Very seldom do I see a sophomore who takes a leadership role on a varsity team. He showed maturity beyond his years. His interaction with teammates, opponents, coaches, and officials was exemplary. He helped control the actions of his teammates, which kept the flow of the game going in a positive direction.

Valmeyer's Michael Chism was the consummate “Floor General” on the court during a recent boys basketball contest. He kept his teammates in check and he was very respectful towards the officiating crew. If a player got out of line, he corralled them in and got their heads back in the game. He often retrieved dead balls and handed them to the administering official. His leadership on the court made our officiating job easy.

Boys Basketball Coach Kevin Toney of West Frankfort continues to display excellent sportsmanship and class during every contest I have officiated for him and his team. His players are always courteous and play hard, but also display excellent sportsmanship. Even in the heat of a moment, Coach Toney keeps his composure and coaches his team.

While officiating a conference competition at Lemont High School, I saw four Crystal Lake Central Cheerleaders attending the competition as spectators. I assumed they were "scoping" out the competition, until I watched them go sit with the parents from Oak Forest High School. When it was Oak Forest's turn to compete, the Crystal Lake Central cheerleaders stood on the feet and applauded. They then held up a sign that said "CLC Loves Oak Forest" They were huge supporters, and cheered for them the entire time. These two teams are both very competitive, and in the same cheer division. It was so refreshing to see the respect these athletes showed for their competition. Kudos to the athletes of Crystal Lake Central HS and their sportsmanship.

What exceptional sportsmanship! While waiting for the elevator at the State Championships, the Antioch cheerleaders were giving great positive praises to each other after their performance. Genuine comments of support, congratulations and pride in each other their program and coaches and athletes were abundant. The coach told his kids that he was so proud of each of his athletes and that "it was the best showing in 4 years" by his program. These kids and coaches are an absolute class act showing pride and great character while representing their school and community at the 2017 IHSA State Cheerleading Finals!

I was officiating a varsity basketball game at Liberty High School this past Saturday night.
Shortly after the start of the third quarter, I sustained a painful injury to my right leg. With that, I immediately received attention from a physical therapist. I was forwarded the best possible care, and experienced the utmost respect and consideration from the administration, coaches and, most importantly the FANS attending the game! It is not very often an official experiences any type of applause as he leaves the floor. Thanks again to everyone for the attention and kindness I experienced in Liberty.

Building a new wrestling program requires a great deal of time and dedication. As Aurora Christian embarks on this journey, there is no question that that they are building a foundation for a successful program and providing an experience for their athletes that will be remembered for years to come. Head coach Justin Pearch has been involved in coaching for some time now and I have had the opportunity to officiate many matches coached by him. Transitioning to a high school head coach for a new program can be very challenging and demanding not to mention stressful. I had the opportunity to officiate the school's first ever home wrestling meet which was very well put together. Mr. Pearch, his staff, and the school provided an exceptional experience for all athletes involved as well as the fans. The atmosphere was near perfect all the way down to the way in which the spotlight truly highlighted the wrestlers. In addition, the sportsmanship that was shown through the coaching was outstanding. No matter what the situation, the positivity that was witnessed is something that athletes and parents will truly respect. There is far more to being an athlete than winning and Mr. Pearch demonstrated that throughout the dual meet to all of his wrestlers.

There were several instances when things just happened to go against Lane High School throughout the tournament today, but despite it all, Lane head coach Alexander Lininger not only represented his school very well, but showed respect for the rules and the sport that was a true example for all.

Following the National Anthem at the boys varsity contest at North Greene High School, there were the usual introductions of starters from both teams. As the last starter was announced from the home team, the entire varsity squad from North Greene came to each official standing in front of the scorers table located at mid-court and shook the hand of each official It wasn't just the starting five. In my 14 years of officiating, I've never experienced that gesture and sportsmanship. Kudo's to Coach Brett Berry and his entire program.

Every player on Ziegler-Royalton team was extremely polite and respectful. Always retrieved loose balls and handed the ball to officials. Always addressed officials as "sir." When the game was over all three officials were discussing in the dressing room how respectful the Ziegler-Royalton team and coaches had been, despite losing the game. As we were preparing to leave the Ziegler-Royalton coach, Matt Morgan, stuck his head in to see if we needed anything before we left or had any problems. We expressed our appreciation about how his team had behaved. He asked if we would express that to his players because it had been a difficult season with few wins, but they were stressing sportsmanship and thought it would be good for his players to see that it was noticed. We walked in to their locker room, spoke to the team, and almost every remaining player came up to shake our hands and thank us. One of the best experiences I have had as an official.

I would like to commend the Thornton boys swim team on their amazing sportsmanship at the Kankakee Kays Tune up, on Friday, February 10 at Kankakee High School. They have a young man named Tristan who is blind. His teammates cheer him on every race. They include him in everything they do. In his last race on Friday, they had the entire pool area chanting "Tristan, Tristan, Tristan." Their acceptance, tolerance and compassion for this young man, inspired everyone in the building to remember what sports are all about, inspiring the human heart to personal triumph! Well, on Friday, that personal triumph became the triumph of every single human being in the building. Well done Thornton High School Boys Swim Team! Well done!

In a big conference game Tuesday night that eventually went into overtime, I felt that Christopher High School Coach Eric Stallman, Sesser-Valier head coach Shane Garner, and both coaching staffs showed extreme professionalism and were great to work and communicate with all night long. The game was back and forth all night long, and both teams allowed us to officiate the game and showed great sportsmanship.

Both teams, Vienna and Trico should be recognized. Vienna has a special needs student who is on the basketball team. Saturday was senior night and they introduced six players in their starting lineup, including him. In the final two minutes of the game, with Vienna ahead by 20, he was substituted into the game. Trico let him shoot from behind three-point arc. Trico began to allow Vienna to rebound each shot to allow him to keep shooting, and with 12 seconds left he made a three! The players, coaches and fans were ecstatic for him. Trico and Vienna should be commended for their actions on this night, as they showed the ultimate sportsmanship teams can offer.

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