Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments of 2013

Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments of 2013

Middle School Football Team Creates Special Day For Water Coach

Danny Keefe, the official water coach for the Bridgewater (Mass.) Badgers Div. 5 Peewees, suffered a serious brain hemorrhage when he was born, causing childhood apraxia of speech. This didn’t stop 6-year-old Danny – each day he would dress up in a suit and tie and stand on the sidelines as the Badgers played football. Upon hearing that Danny was getting picked on because of the way he speaks and dresses, Badgers quarterback Tommy Cooney decided that he wanted to wear a suit to school to show support. Tommy told his teammates about his plan and they all agreed to join in on “Danny Appreciation Day.” The fifth-graders showed up to school on “Danny Appreciation Day,” all wearing suits and ties, and gathered around Danny in the library, cheering his name. “We heard that Danny was getting picked on, so we thought that we would all have a day to dress up like Danny to show him that we love him very much,” said one of Danny’s teammates. “The coach calls us a band of brothers. He’s one of us.” This moment also was selected as the #1 Responsible Sports Moment of the Year.

Teen Launches Basketball Non-Profit

Kaetlyn Hernandez, a 16-year-old guard on the Lockport (Ill.) basketball team, realized that some students wouldn’t have the same opportunities she has had to play the sport she loves. That didn’t sit well with her, so she has taken matters into her own hands and combined her two passions, athletics and academics, to form ScholarHoops, a nonprofit organization set out to provide college scholarships to local basketball players. Hernandez raises money through fundraisers, sponsorships and donations, along with small fees for various basketball camps and tournaments she will organize, including a two-hour basketball fundamentals camp held on August 31. “My goal is to raise $12,000 this year and give $2,000 to each of six kids, hopefully, three girls and three boys, to use for the college of their choice,” said Hernandez. Scholarship winners will be chosen from among those who attend the camp and will be based on a submitted essay discussing the importance of education and youth sports and how to best balance both, as well as current report card grades.

Wyoming Teen Shows Sportsmanship On The Mat

Camel Kids wrestler Deric Johnson, a seventh-grader from Sage Valley, Wyo., was in need of a win on the mats. After all, he wanted desperately to improve his 3-12 record. While at a USA Wrestling tournament in March, Johnson drew Joey Pinkerton of Douglas Wrestling Club (Wyo.) in the third-place match. Pinkerton, a young athlete with Down syndrome, had never known the thrill of a victorious match. Johnson decided a victory for his opponent would be more important than one for himself. He gave Pinkerton a solid match, but ultimately, it was Pinkerton who tasted his first career victory with a 7-0 decision to the cheers of wrestlers from both teams. “When I walked off the mat, I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Johnson. Everyone learned an important lesson that day – one about treating others with respect.

Teen Takes Teammate Under His Wing

At the beginning of the Swope Middle School (Reno, Nev.) track season, 14-year-old Drew Rippingham decided to take his teammate Jack Rovetti, an eighth-grader with Down syndrome, under his wing. Drew ran beside Jack during every meet of the season to provide encouragement and support, rather than speeding ahead to win. Drew wanted Jack to experience the feeling of winning a race, so before the final track meet of the year, he approached the other runners in the race and they all selflessly agreed to allow Jack to win. When the 100-meter dash began, Jack raced ahead of the five other runners and crossed the finish line in first place. In a show of sportsmanship and friendship, the other runners congratulated Jack on his win and slapped him high-five. Drew’s mother, Julie Rippingham, said, “I think Drew was really proud to see the smile on Jack’s face, because that’s what it was for. Everybody should experience winning.”

Teen Runner Stops To Help Fallen Opponent

Wilber-Clatonia High School (Wilber, Neb.) sophomore Matt Petracek was less than 800 meters away from finishing the Beatrice cross country invitational when he saw a competitor from an opposing team collapse. While other competitors raced ahead to cross the finish line, Matt stopped to help the fallen runner. Several trees in the area prevented the spectators from witnessing the incident, so Matt stayed until his opponent’s trainer and parents got there, at which point all of the other runners had finished the race. This is the first race that Matt didn’t finish, but his act of sportsmanship makes him a true winner. “I always like to finish. I haven’t not finished until that day, but it felt better to help someone in need. It feels amazing, actually,” he said.

Cross Country Runner Helps Injured Opponent Cross Finish Line

Amistad High School (New Haven, Conn.) junior Kayla Samuel was running in the 2013 State Class S Girl’s Cross Country Championship meet. Near the end of the race, Kayla noticed an opponent from another school who was struggling to walk after tripping and twisting her ankle. While other competitors jogged by, Kayla selflessly decided to stop and help. She linked arms with her injured opponent and helped her to the finish line. Along the way, Kayla encouraged her opponent by telling her that she was doing a good job and that they were almost near the finish line. Upon approaching the finish line, Kayla let go of her opponents’ arm and allowed her to finish one place ahead. “You have to realize there are other people with you. Just because you want that perfect time, or you want that perfect place, you need to make sure others are happy about the race, even if that means sacrificing your own time or your own position,” Kayla said. The girls reunited the following week, where Kayla’s opponent brought her flowers and a framed picture of them running together.

Rinkside Sign Promotes Responsibility On The Ice

What has circulated the internet as a viral photo is more than just a joke to Jeff Doschadis at Hoffman Estates Park District's ice rinks in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Doschadis, the general manager of the rink, posted a simple sign to remind parents and players of the good in youth sports: 1. These are kids. 2. This is a game. 3. Parents should cheer for everyone. 4. The referees are human. 5. You and your child do not play for the Blackhawks. The sign has been met with great reviews from parents, with emails coming in from all over the world asking about the sign.

Teen Displays Integrity And Honesty During Golf Championship

During the final round of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, 16-year-old golfer Davis Riley (Hattiesburg, Miss.) was competing for the title. Upon approaching the 16th hole, Davis needed to sink the ball in less than two strokes in order to capture the win against his opponent. Davis addressed the ball and checked his line, but then noticed that the ball had moved slightly. Nobody seemed to notice this error, but in an act of integrity and honesty, Davis approached the rules officials and pointed out his mistake, calling a one-point penalty on himself and eliminating his chance to win the prestigious title. His opponent ultimately won the championship, noting Davis’ act of honesty. “It took a lot of heart to do that,” he said. Even after his defeat, Davis remained positive and praised his opponent’s achievements, saying, “He hit a lot of good shots. The week was awesome. I played well all week. He just hit some really good shots.”

Wrestling Creates Bond Between Opponents

Halifax (Pa.) High School wrestler Joey Kaufman always had respect for his weight class opponent from a nearby high school. The respect grew into friendship and kindness when Joey found out that his rival had been diagnosed with germ cell cancer and was no longer able to compete for the season. During the District 3-AA Championships, Joey noticed his sidelined opponent, who had been ranked No. 1 in the district before his diagnosis, sitting in the stands cheering him on. When Joey ended up winning the gold medal, he knew what he wanted to do. He texted his opponent and asked him to wait once the competition was over. In an act of sportsmanship and selflessness, Joey approached his rival and gave him the gold medal he had won. “It killed me a little bit when I found out he had a tumor. It was terrible. He made me a better wrestler with the fight he gave me,” Joey said. “I just wanted to give him more motivation going through this.”

Football Team Learns Sign Language To Communicate With Teammate

The Brooke High School (Wellsburg, W.Va.) football team’s manager, Matteo, was born with a rare chromosome disorder that makes it difficult for him to communicate with his teammates. He primarily uses sign language as his means of communication. Matteo’s teammates wanted to be able to communicate with their teammate and friend, so they selflessly approached a speech teacher at the school and asked if they could dedicate their own time once a week to learn and practice sign language. The sessions do not impact the students’ grades and do not allow them special treatment; they simply wanted to find a way to better interact with Matteo, both on and off the football field. The group coined themselves “The Sign Crew,” and says that Matteo has been an inspiration to the team, always lifting their spirit and supporting his teammates.

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In an age where negative news dominates the headlines, Liberty Mutual Insurance seeks to celebrate acts of responsibility that we know happen every day.

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