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By Marta Lawrence
Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano has been recognized as the 2011 recipient of the Bob Frederick Award, which annually honors an NCAA coach, administrator or staff member who demonstrates a history of sportsmanship.
In addition, the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct selected national and divisional winners of the student-athlete sportsmanship award. The national winners were Courtney Berger of Nova Southeastern and Louis Day of South Carolina. Division recognition went to Tony Evans and Meredith Hall.
The NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Awards honor student-athletes who, through their actions in the competitive arena of intercollegiate athletics, have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship. Those include fairness, civility, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility.
The Frederick Award was first presented in 2009 to honor the late Kansas athletics director. Recipients exhibit similar commitments to sportsmanship and ethical conduct, leading by example and promoting positive fan involvement in and out of competition. Like Frederick, recipients of the award are known by their sincere passion for student-athletes and colleagues. Nominations are solicited nationally, and the winner is selected by the sportsmanship committee.
Mitrano has been an influential leader in the areas of sportsmanship, ethics and NCAA leadership. He moderated a hazing summit at the NCAA Convention in 2007 and continues to serve as the director of collegiate partnerships for National Sportsmanship Day.
He was named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute of International Sport in November 2007. The Empire 8 was also the first athletics conference in any division or level to be named an “All-American Sportsmanship Conference” by that organization.
"Chuck Mitrano has been one of the most effective leaders in intercollegiate sport in terms of fostering a culture of sportsmanship," said Dan Doyle, founder and executive director of the Institute of International Sport and president and chief executive officer of the World Youth Peace Summit. "We have tremendous admiration for Chuck at the Institute for International Sport. We consider him to be one of the great sports educators in America.”
Division II Nova Southeastern freshman rower Courtney Berger was the coxswain of an eight-person boat during the SIRA Regatta when she noticed a rival Rollins College competitor slumped over, having difficulty breathing. Berger directed her team to assist and helped guide their boat toward the stricken rower.
When attempts to notify officials failed, Berger climbed into the boat and held the athlete upright until she regained control of her breathing and the crews were able to flag an official to aid the young woman, who reportedly was suffering from dehydration and an abdominal injury.
At the 2011 Southeastern Conference track and field championships, South Carolina junior Louis Day proved that sportsmanship starts with individual acts of integrity. During one of his weigh-throw attempts, the officials misread the mark and gave two extra meters to his throw. Day knew that the mark was inaccurate and informed his coach.
The coach reported the error to the officials, who agreed with the mistake and honored the protest, removing the extra distance from Day’s throw.
“As much as Louis is a competitor, he has shown that his respect for the sport is as important as his ability to win a championship,” wrote South Carolina Sports Information Director Steve Fink in the school’s nomination form. “Although Louis did not win a championship during this event, his sportsmanship is that of a champion.”
During the 2011 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference track and field championships, Division III St. Scholastica senior Tony Evans and coach Todd Bouchie offered a competitor the use of their heavier equipment to improve the distance on his javelin throw. Evans and Bouchie knew the offer would likely cost Evans the championship, but they were excited to see if the competitor could better his conference record.
In the finals, using the St. Scholastica’s javelin, the competitor not only set a conference record, he also met the Division III provisional mark for the NCAA championships. Evans finished second.
Division III Massachusetts Maritime senior cross country captain Meredith Hall stopped during the Codfish Bowl Invitational to help a runner from Brandeis who was having difficulty breathing due to an asthma attack. Although the runner told her she would be fine, Hall wasn’t convinced, staying with her rival until help arrived.
“She told me to keep going,” Hall said, “but I wasn’t going to leave her alone.”
Hall sacrificed team standing and individual time to help her fellow runner. “Anyone would have done the same thing,” she said. “I know she would have done the same thing for me.”