Good Sports: NHS Athletics Recognized With CIAC Award
Everything from the exuberance of the fan section in the stands and the words of public address announcer Jason “J” Edwards emanating from the Hawks Nest down to the playing surface where athletes and coaches interact with their opponents gets noticed. Representatives of Newtown High School’s athletic department were recognized for being collective good sports, as the department, under the leadership of Athletic Director Matt Memoli, earned the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) 2021 Fred Balsamo Sportsmanship Award.
The prestigious award is given to one school per year that demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship and provides an enjoyable experience for students in athletics. The award will be officially announced at the December 7 CIAC Sportsmanship Conference.
The CIAC commended the NHS athletic department in a statement: “We are proud to recognize you, your students, and your athletic program for continuing to seek ways of promoting the growth of your students and supporting the ideals of good sportsmanship. You are to be commended for your dedication to sportsmanship and for providing your students with the most enjoyable possible experience in athletics.”
“It’s a real honor to be recognized by the state,” said Becky Osborne, coach of NHS girls’ swimming and boys’ winter indoor and spring outdoor track and field. “Matt really has set the tone for the whole athletic department and holds his coaches to a certain level.”
Memoli credited the coaches and athletes and showed his appreciation to them in a note: “I want to take a minute to say thank you to each and every one of you. Your high expectations, leadership, and willingness to go above and beyond is the reason we won this award. In a time where coaching high school sports is as challenging as ever, we should all be proud of what we have here in Newtown.”
The NHS athletic director said the high level of sportsmanship is on and off the playing field.
“We have a really clean student section. We have really positive, enthusiastic kids,” Memoli said. “You want these kids to have the best experience possible.”
The high level of sportsmanship is also outside of the school as teams have been involved with community service activities.
“I think it’s a team effort. It’s all about collaboration,” Memoli said.
During game play, competition can be intense but players often show concern for opponents who have fallen or gotten the worst of a collision and help each other up. After the games opponents shake hands.
The approach of coaches sets the tone, Memoli added. “How you handle yourself as a coach trickles down to the the players.”
“I’m so proud to be part of the NHS athletic family. The athletes, coaches, and our AD Matt Memoli does such a great job,” said Ian Thoesen, coach of Newtown High’s baseball team.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.