With the 2018-’19 high school sports season kicking off this week with football games across the state, it’s a good time to think about maintaining sportsmanship on the field and in the stands.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), in partnership with Rural Mutual Insurance Co., recently selected the team Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2018 Spring State Team Tournaments.

The winners of the prestigious award are University School of Milwaukee in boys tennis, Wisconsin Heights-Barneveld in girls soccer, Burlington in softball, Ithaca in spring baseball and Plymouth in summer baseball.

University School earns the sportsmanship honor in boys team tennis for the first time. It’s the fourth time the Wildcats have received the award overall. They also received the recognition in girls tennis in 2007 and 2015, and in girls hockey in 2013. Badger and Edgewood received honorable mention for the award.

It is the first time the cooperative program of Wisconsin Heights-Barneveld has been selected for the Sportsmanship Award in girls soccer. Aside from the schools’ co-op in girls soccer, both have earned sportsmanship awards previously. Barneveld won the girls basketball award in 2003 and in 2007, and Wisconsin Heights received the sportsmanship award in girls volleyball in 2008 and 2010. The programs receiving honorable mention for the award are Belleville-New Glarus, Catholic Memorial, Cedar Grove-Belgium, New Berlin Eisenhower and River Falls.

Burlington demonstrated sportsmanship and enthusiasm over its three games of the tournament en route to a runner-up finish in Division 1. It’s the first time the Demons have been chosen as the recipient of the award in softball. Honorable mention for the award was extended to Appleton North, Assumption, Chippewa Falls, Horicon, McDonell Central Catholic, Oak Creek, Oakfield, Pacelli, Portage, Poynette, Weyauwega-Fremont and Whitnall.

Ithaca is the recipient of the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award for the first time in any sport. They displayed outstanding sportsmanship and extended a respectful gesture of support to the Athens team and community for a player who had recently died in an UTV crash. Arrowhead, Burlington, Eau Claire North, Ellsworth, Johnson Creek, Kimberly, Mineral Point and Webster all received honorable mention. 

The WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award is presented to one school and community in each of the State team tournaments. The award winners are determined by the conduct and sportsmanship displayed by athletes, coaches, cheer and support groups, mascots, bands and spectators. Additional consideration is given for the effort of school administrators and chaperones to ensure support for their teams is positive and that the highest ideals of sportsmanship are upheld. Award winners receive a plaque and banner in recognition of the honor. Schools receiving honorable mention are acknowledged with a certificate of recognition.

Rural Mutual Insurance has sponsored the Sportsmanship Award program for more than 52 years.

The selection process includes evaluations from contest officials and tournament management, including security personnel, crowd control and ushers, and WIAA staff members.