E.A. Sports Today

Doing the right thing

Five Calhoun County schools to be recognized for sportsmanship by AHSAA; updates with other awards

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – Five Calhoun County athletics programs are among 121 in Alabama that will be recognized Friday for their sportsmanship during the previous athletic year.

Donoho, Faith Christian, Jacksonville Christian, Piedmont and Oxford all will be recognized during the eighth annual Star Sportsmanship Luncheon being held in conjunction with the AHSAA’s Summer Conference and All-Star Week.

All the schools recognized went through the 2014-15 school year fine and ejection free. The total represents a 21 percent increase from the previous year.

“I think it’s huge to make it throughout the year without any fines or ejections,” Faith athletics director Bradley Dawson said. “I heard (Alabama basketball coach) Avery Johnson talk today about surrounding yourself with great people. I think we have great people at Faith and it takes a team effort to accomplish this task.

“We have great coaches with high integrity, which makes my job easy. I hope we can continue to operate in a way where this is a common accuracy every year.”

Of the 121 total, 32 are from Class 1A, 19 from 2A, 23 from 3A, 17 from 4A, 15 from 5A, 11 from 6A and four from 7A.

Piedmont is one of 18 schools being recognized for the first time. All the first-timers will receive a banner to commemorate the feat.

Donoho is being recognized for the fifth time, JCA the fourth and Faith and Oxford each the third. JCA also was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Alabama Media Group.

“You always want to have a model program,” Bulldogs athletics director and football coach Steve Smith said. “You’re not proud of any fines or ejections or things of that nature; sometimes it’s hard to get through a year without making an honest mistake. We had that happen before.

“It says a lot for our coaches and our players for being able to practice self-control on the field, on the court and we try always to do things by the book. Every now and then we mess up and make a mistake, but you recognize it, deal with it and move on.

“I’m proud of our athletics program as a whole to get that banner. We’ve gone to a lot of places in the county and seen them hanging up there and never had one on our campus. It’d be nice to get one of our own.”

Smith remembers vividly the circumstance that kept the Bulldogs from getting it in 2012. They had been exemplary on the field throughout the year – as they have been for many — but were hit with a fine for failing to report the victory that sent their baseball team to the state finals in a timely manner.

He was enjoying the post-game activities with the team and its supporters that night and it hit him about 3 that morning he hadn’t reported the result to the state.

“We went through the whole year without any fine or ejection and the AD costs us there in the last week of the season,” he said.

That doesn’t happen any more on his watch.

“Every time since I’m calling, texting and putting it in the computer,” he said. “They’re getting it three ways from me.”

Nine schools have been recognized for their sportsmanship six times since the program was developed in 2007-08, including Talladega’s Alabama School for the Blind. Covenant Christian of Tuscumbia will be recognized for a record seventh time.

“We are very proud of the effort our member schools place on good sportsmanship practices,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said in a news release. “Being ejection and fine free is a reachable goal as these schools have shown us.”

In other awards given at the conclusion of the All-Star Week, Faith Christian senior soccer player Josiah McDaniel was awarded an AHSADCA Coaches’ Children’s Scholarship, while Weaver and Jacksonville were among 10 schools awarded $2,500 need-based Lemak Award grants.

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