With the 2019-’20 high school sports season kicking off next week with football, soccer and volleyball 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 Company, has selected the team Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2019 Spring State Team Tournaments.

The winners of the prestigious award are Union Grove in baseball, Ashland in girls soccer and Mishicot in softball.

Union Grove is the recipient of the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award in baseball for the first time and for the second time across all sports. The Broncos also won the softball Sportsmanship Award in 2007. The Broncos and their fans endured the postponement of their semifinal game a day because of a lengthy rain delay. They advanced to the Division 2 championship game with a 6-1 victory over McFarland, and finished State runner-up following an 8-3 loss to Antigo in the final. Antigo, Belmont, Boyceville, Fond du Lac, Markesan, Ozaukee, Stratford, Webster and West De Pere all received honorable mention. 

Ashland’s sportsmanship and positive fan support earned them the honor in girls soccer for the third time, also earning the award in the sport in 2009 and 2013. It’s also the sixth sportsmanship recognition overall. In addition to girls soccer, they also claimed the award in summer baseball in 2005, boys soccer in 2013 and gymnastics in 2016. Members of the team were witnessed extending well-wishes to members of the Catholic Memorial team following their 5-0 loss to the Crusaders in the Division 3 semifinals. The schools and communities receiving honorable mention include St. Mary Catholic and Edgewood.

Mishicot demonstrated positive and respectful enthusiasm in its two games at the Softball State Tournament en route to a runner-up finish in Division 4. It’s the first time the Indians have been chosen as the recipient of the award in any sport. They notched a 5-1 win over Pacelli in the semifinals and fell 13-4 to Horicon in the championship finals. Honorable mention for the award was extended to Belmont, Blair-Taylor, Campbellsport, Chippewa Falls, Ellsworth, Gilman, Kenosha Bradford/Reuther, Prescott, Pulaski, Seymour, Southern Door, Thorp, Tri-County and Waukesha North. 

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 insure support for their teams are 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 54 years. The selection process includes evaluations from contest officials, tournament management, as well as security personnel, crowd control and ushers, and WIAA staff members.