Press release courtesy of the NFHS.
Tori Clark, a student-athlete at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois, has been selected as the 2010 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Tori Clark (left) and Lake Park High School teammate Chelsea Gieseke (right) pose in the t-shirts they sold to raise money for Teams Helping Teams night.
The “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
Clark, who is a member of the volleyball and basketball teams, formerly participated on the soccer team. Her leadership skills and positive attitude led her teammates to vote her basketball team captain. She also is involved with a number of community events, including a wheelchair basketball tournament earlier this year.
However, those outstanding activities and accolades were just a precursor to one of the most selfless acts ever exhibited by a high school student-athlete.
In October 2009, Tori’s father showed her an article in a local newspaper regarding Christine Federico, a former star volleyball player and now a single mother of two in a neighboring community. Federico had recently been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a form of pre-leukemia.
Her 13- and 17-year-old daughters are volleyball players at Neuqua Valley High School, which competes in the same conference as Lake Park High School.
Like many others reading the story, Tori initially felt bad for the Federico family, but she also felt compelled to do something more. Knowing that Lake Park would be hosting Neuqua Valley in volleyball in less than two weeks, she quickly began to recruit her teammates, coaches, parents and other fans to give back.
Tori had no connection with the Federico family. She didn’t know her counterpart on the volleyball court (Nikki Federico), and the two seniors didn’t have any mutual friends. Nonetheless, Tori orchestrated an evening that no one will soon forget. Although Christine was unable to attend the October 15th match due to risk of infection, the surprise her daughters and her parents felt when they entered the gymnasium decorated floor to ceiling in orange (the ribbon color for leukemia awareness) had to be overwhelming.
Tori started the evening by taking the microphone at center court and explaining that the Lake Park volleyball team had dubbed the night “Teams Helping Teams.” She also convinced a local vendor to donate orange t-shirts that read “Federico Family We Support You,” that nearly everyone in the gym wore.
In the end, the team sold more than 600 t-shirts and raised in excess of $3,500, which Lake Park presented to the Federico family to help pay for uninsured medical costs.
Through her selfless actions helping someone whom she had no real prior connection, Tori has set an outstanding example of how the positive spirit of sport can give back to someone in need.
“What an incredibly deserving honor for an outstanding young woman,” said Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Executive Director Marty Hickman. “We were excited to nominate Tori (Clark) for this award to provide recognition for her selfless and kind act. When you consider all the exceptional candidates from the around the country, it really is a significant honor for Tori, Lake Park High School and everyone who was involved in this event.”
Clark is the first nominee from the state of Illinois to win the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award. She follows Belvidere North's Amy Brechon (Belvidere, IL), a breast cancer survivor who helped promote breast cancer awareness as a high school student, who was the IHSA nominee and the Section 4 winner a year ago.
In addition to the selection of Tori Clark as the national winner, the NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee chose seven other individuals for section awards. Following are the 2010 National High School Spirit of Sport section winners:
- Section 1 – Jackie Quetti, student-athlete, Pittsfield (Massachusetts) High School
- Section 2 – Jason E. Meade, coach, Mechanicsville (Virginia) Lee-Davis High School
- Section 3 – Kaleb Eulls, student-athlete, Yazoo City (Mississippi) Yazoo County High School
- Section 4 – Tori Clark, student-athlete, Roselle (Illinois) Lake Park High School
- Section 5 – Jim Christy, coach, Minneapolis (Minnesota) South High School
- Section 6 – Justin Ray Duke, student-athlete, Shepherd (Texas) High School
- Section 7 – Corey Reich, coach, Piedmont (California) High School
- Section 8 – Huslia Huslers Girls Basketball Team, Huslia (Alaska) Jimmy Huntington School
Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members. While the national winner will be recognized July 9 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in San Diego, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.