By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN - "Shark" sportsmanship was honored last month with accolades from the state's athletic association.
Sebastian River High School was notified earlier this year that is won the 2011-12 Florida High School Athletic Association Class 7A Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award.
The school finally received its award during a school event on Sept. 21.
The award was presented to the school by Peggy Jones, Florida High School Athletic Association executive director, at halftime during the Okeechobee High School versus Sebastian River High School football game at Shark Stadium in Sebastian.
The school also earned a $3,000 check from the FHSAA.
Ms. Jones is a former principal at Sebastian River High School.
Michael Stutzke, the athletic director for the high school, said he was very pleased with the award for the whole school.
The varsity teams were able to end the year with an overall average grade point average of 3.15, which demonstrates a commitment to excellence off the field, as well.
"This is what you try to instill in your kids. It is most important because they take life lessons with them from high school. You want to be gracious when you win and gracious when you fall short," Mr. Stutzke said in an interview.
The athletic department as a whole, tries to instill good values to the students they interact with so when they graduate, they are solid, productive members of society, and engaged in their community, he said.
About 600 students in the school are athletes in uniform and Mr. Stutzke is proud of their accomplishments.
"We now join a select group of high schools," Mr. Stutzke said.
He said much of the credit goes to the coaches who work with their students daily and teach them to play with integrity, respect and sportsmanship, and other valuable life lessons.
"Sportsmanship is the award we strive for in high school sports," Mr. Stutzke said.
That doesn't mean winning other awards, such as the girls high school 7A basketball championship is anything to be sneezed at, but high school sports is about much more than championships, he said.
In a press release, Superintendent Fran Adams, said she was proud of the school's accomplishment.
"We cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of good sportsmanship, both on and off the playing field," she said.
Sebastian River Middle School also received the award for the 2011-12 school year in its division.