Last month, the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced the 99 schools that qualified as a Sportsmanship School for the 2018-19 school year. Central Coosa and Dadeville were both recognized after going the entire year without receiving a sportsmanship fine or having a player or coach ejected in any sport.

Central Coosa was recognized for the second consecutive year. Girls basketball coach Syreeta McKinney said it shows despite being a small school, Coosa is still full of love.

“Our staff and our students show a great respect for others,” McKinney said. “We teach our kids that you can’t be a great athlete without being a great person first. So this shows that through everything, we’re staying positive and that’s credit to the coaches and all the kids.”

McKinney said there are always going to be situations in competitive games where it is easy to let the emotions run too high but having self-control in those moments is the focus for the Cougars in every sport.

Dadeville was recognized as a Sportsmanship School for the first time since 2008. Athletic director Richard White, who has been at the school since 2000, said it shows the progress the Tigers have made over the last decade.

“We’re really glad to be able to win this,” White said. “Any time you can keep all of the players, coaching staff and yourself under control, that says a lot. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

White said earning the award was about how the teams handled losses rather than just acting correctly when you win.

“We always talk to the kids about being a good sport but anyone can do that when you win,” White said. “It takes more to be a good sport when you lose. I don’t want you to like losing but you can still do it with grace.”

Both schools will be honored at the AHSAA Sportsmanship Luncheon during the 2019 AHSAA Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week. The 12th annual luncheon will be held at noon Friday, July 19, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

Overall, 376 of the AHSAA’s 416 high schools (90.4%) have combined to earn the Sportsmanship Award recognition 1,195 times since 2008.

“We are extremely pleased to recognize 99 high schools for this noted accomplishment,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said in a release. “Our total fines were down 4.1% in 2018-19 over the previous year, and we thank all our schools for their commitment to teaching good sportsmanship and upholding the regulations and by-laws created by our member schools.”

The AHSAA also released its annual Ejection and School Fine report, reporting that 258 high schools had a total of 548 student-athlete and 70 coach ejections during the 2018-19 school year. 

The student-athletes with ejections represent only 0.003% of the more than 156,000 student-athletes who participated in AHSAA sports events in 2018-19, and the 74 coaches with ejections are just 0.006% of the AHSAA’s more than 11,000 certified coaches.

“We are also encouraged by the large percentage of student-athletes and coaches who are competing in our sports’ programs who never receive an ejection,” Savarese said. “Our goal, however, is always for each school to be fine and ejection free. It is imperative that each of us, our schools, coaches and administrators continue to emphasize daily the importance of good sportsmanship to our students, parents and communities.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writers at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.