Fayetteville recipient of sportsmanship grant
by Erich Hilkert
In sports, the consequences of what happens in a game may stay with an individual long after the celebration following a win—or the desultory pain following a defeat. The lessons an athlete learns in the way they play the game is more important than the outcome of the final score. Fayetteville High School was one of eight high schools in the state of Alabama to receive an al.com $1,000 sportsmanship grant presented by the Alabama Media Group at the AHSAA Sportsmanship Banquet in Montgomery last Friday.

“To us, out-of-school sportsmanship is everything,” Fayetteville athletics director John Limbaugh said. “You want to play fair and you want to win fair. As coaches, you have to demonstrate what sportsmanship is all about. So, it starts at the top level with our administration on down to our teachers and our coaches, so it’s up to everybody at the whole school to make sure that we’re doing things the right way. We have to emulate the positive role model for the kids. They run with that. Our kids do understand that sportsmanship is what it’s all about. It’s okay to knock a guy down on the field, but you want to be there to pick him up and to win fair and play fair is what it’s all about. If you can’t play the game the way it should be played, you shouldn’t be playing at all. That’s what we really try to stress to our teams.”

124 total schools received recognition for not receiving any fines or ejections throughout their athletic departments as part of AHSAA’s STAR Sportsmanship program. Among the local schools, Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama School for the Deaf, Fayetteville, Munford, and Pell City were all recognized as STAR Sportsmanship schools receiving no fines or ejections.

“We had another year of no penalties, nothing called against our coaches, no ejections for both players or coaches, for all sports for the whole 2012-13 school year,” Fayetteville athletics director John Limbaugh said.

“Every sport we have—football, baseball, softball, basketball, everything—went ejection-free. We’ve gotten that several years now. We’re real proud of our coaches. I think they just do a tremendous job. The job happens when you coach kids up, you have them ready to play a ball game, and you also have your coaches ready to play the game. We’re more concerned about what we’re doing; we don’t make it about the officials. Last year, one thing we did before football season—and we’re going to try to get that done again this year—but we hire officials to come in and talk to all of our coaches and our fans and we try to encourage sportsmanship in the athletics department. They chose a school from each district; we were the district six winner for this $1,000 grant from al.com. Byron Brasher, our principal, received the check at a luncheon award that he and I attended along with over 100 schools that went ejection-free.”

As Limbaugh alluded to, the eight winners were selected as representing each district in the state of Alabama and Fayetteville was selected as the winner from district six.

Limbaugh said as an athletics director, he considers a coach’s character when hiring coaches because sportsmanship is such a paramount concern.

“Our coaches know what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Limbaugh said. “We’ve got good people. That’s the thing about it. When you hire, you want to hire good people. Our coaches are very intense and very motivated and they do a fantastic job. A lot of it is the character of the coach and the character of the person. We try to hire the right people for the job and it makes my job a lot easier. We do have meetings and we go over sportsmanship. All our coaches have gone through a sportsmanship program. It really all starts with the character of the person that is the coach.”

© 2013