With the onset of another high school sports season, it’s important for players, coaches and fans to remember that sportsmanship is a key part of any athletic competition. 

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), in partnership with Rural Mutual Insurance Co., annually presents Sportsmanship Awards to schools taking part in State team tournaments. The winners of the prestigious award for the spring of 2021 were Baldwin-Woodville in softball, Rosholt in baseball and Cedar Grove-Belgium in girls soccer.

According to the WIAA, Baldwin-Woodville demonstrated sportsmanship with respectful and positive enthusiasm in its two games at the State Softball Tournament en route to a runner-up finish in Division 2. It’s the first time the Blackhawks have been chosen as the recipient of the award in softball and the second time they have received it overall. Honorable mention for the award was extended to Beaver Dam, Blair-Taylor, Cedarburg, Chippewa Falls, Juda/Albany, Lomira, Marinette, Mishicot, Oakfield, Pacelli, Peshtigo, Phillips, Seneca and Wilmot Union.

Rosholt was the recipient of the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award in baseball for the first time in any sport. The Hornets advanced to the Division 4 championship game with a 6-1 victory over Greenwood, and finished State runner-up following a 4-0 loss to Boyceville in the final. Boyceville, Catholic Memorial, Greenwood, Jefferson, Kenosha St. Joseph, Marathon, Onalaska, Rice Lake, Southwestern and Union Grove all received honorable mention.

Cedar Grove-Belgium received positive evaluations for their team sportsmanship and positive fan support to earn them the honor in girls soccer for the first time. The Rockets were also recipients of the award in boys soccer in 2006. The schools and communities receiving honorable mention include Ashland, Hudson, New Berlin Eisenhower, Oregon and Plymouth.

The WIAA/Rural Insurance Sportsmanship Award is presented to one school program and community — or communities in the case of cooperative programs — that demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship in WIAA team tournaments. 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 are positive and that the highest ideals of sportsmanship are demonstrated.

Rural Mutual Insurance began sponsoring the Sportsmanship Award program back in 1965, recognizing that sportsmanship is vital to the success of high school sports.