Great sportsmanship highlights birthday weekend

Before I tell you whose birthday it is, let’s recap a great weekend of sportsmanship. The Brigade paid a Friday night visit to Holy Spirit where the home team took on St. Elizabeth/St. Roberts in a 3rd grade girls softball game. Whether it’s softball or baseball, one of the hardest things for kids to do is find the plate when pitching. Walks come in bunches and frustration often sets in on the young athlete. Ava Gaynor and Kaylynn Jones of Holy Spirit didn’t allow this to happen on their team. Kalynn would not let her teammate get down on herself after a series of walks. She could be heard cheering, “Let’s go!” and “You can do it!” from the bench.

Ava and Kaylynn in front holding their awards, but are flanked by the whole team

After the inning, the same teammate came back to the bench in tears. That’s when Ava stepped in. She slid down to the end of the bench where the young lady was sitting and put her arm around her. Ava whispered words of encouragement and never left her teammate’s side. The Brigade recognized Ava and Kaylynn for their tag-team acts of sportsmanship. Saturday’s visit was little more than a stone’s throw from Holy Spirit when the Brigade descended upon nearby St. Richard for a 2nd grade baseball game between the home squad and St. John Bosco. Sometimes it takes an entire game to see character stand-outs – not so much in this contest.

Ty Williams of St. John Bosco and Amari Twyman of St. Richard set themselves apart early on. Amari is St. Richard’s universal soldier. While all the players on the youth level switch defensive positions from inning to inning, Amari did it without complaint. He followed is coach’s instructions to the letter. Amari encouraged his teammates on the field and was the unquestioned leader when it came to hustle and effort. Ty is an entirely different character, though. During one inning, his coach told him to play shortstop. He sprinted onto the field and yelled, “I’ve been training to play shortstop my whole life! I love this!” It’s funny what 8-year-olds say. His uniform looks much dirtier than Amari’s – not because he necessarily played harder – but because he played…harder.

He slid into every base no matter what. Ty slid on slow grounders, doubles down the line and triples in the corner. None of that made him dirty enough, though. He even rubbed dirt on his pant legs before pitches while playing defense. Ty played with the type of reckless abandon we all remember as kids. He was having a blast and encouraged the kids on both teams to have the same kind of fun. Ty and Amari were easy award selections for the Sportsmanship Brigade.

From L-R: Brigade member Sherry Gusman, Ty, Big Sol and Amari

The Sportsmanship Brigade is a group of Sports Commission volunteers who attend youth sporting events looking for acts of good sportsmanship. Athletes, coaches, parents, fans and officials who exhibit good sportsmanship are rewarded with a certificate of recognition and a gift card to a local business. For more on the Brigade, including scheduling and volunteering information, please visit sportsmanship.org or call 314-345-5130. Oh, I almost forgot. Somebody special turned three over the weekend. On Tuesday, May 13, 2009, the Sportsmanship Blog was born. I don’t know if anyone actually read the original post, but I’m thankful so many are reading now. Head over to The Sportsmanship Network and celebrate with us.  Until next time…

Be a Good Sport!

-Sol

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