By Ray Hamill — Good sportsmanship will be recognized more than ever in local high school sports this year, thanks to the efforts of the H-DN Student Athlete Advisory Council.
Last year, the league voted unanimously to move forward with a proposal by the council to begin recognizing the schools that display the best sportsmanship at H-DNL events.
And that means all 11 H-DNL schools will be competing for more than just league championships this year.
The league will hand out H-DN Sportsmanship Award pennants to the school that earns the most sportsmanship points after each of the fall, winter and spring seasons, as well as awarding a sportsmanship banner and hosting a rally to recognize the top overall school at the end of the school year.
The awards will be based on input from three different groups — officials, coaches and school administrators.
Referees and umpires will evaluate the sportsmanship of student athletes, coaches, cheerleaders and fans at every sporting event they officiate, which will count for 40 percent of the overall voting.
At the end of each season, all H-DNL coaches will also provide their evaluation of the schools they competed against, which will count for 30 percent of the overall voting.
School administrators and ADs will also provide an evaluation at the end of each season, which will count for the final 30 percent.
The idea is not a new one — the league awarded sportsmanship awards back in the 1980s and 90s — but it has been reinvented.
And it all began with the student athletes.
“This is student driven,” SAAC advisor Kristie Christiansen said. “They felt it was important.”
It is the latest progressive proposal from the SAAC, which is made up of two student athletes from each of the H-DNL schools, one boy and one girl and usually a junior and a senior.
The council, which was founded in the 2018/19 school year, meets several times a year.
“One of our goals is to promote positive interaction among our student athletes on and off the playing field,” Christiansen said.
One of the driving factors behind the sportsmanship awards is to create a better environment for officials, especially in light of the recent decline in the number of officials for high school sports here on the North Coast and all across the country.
“Hopefully this will help support our officials,” Christiansen said.
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