05/09/07 — North Duplin receives Sportsmanship Award

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North Duplin receives Sportsmanship Award

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on May 9, 2007 2:32 PM

CALYPSO -- Often, a sportsmanship award is given to a team or a player who isn't always at the top level of competition. It can be an award that's given as an after thought to a team or individual which isn't necessarily deserving of the honor.

This, however, is not one of those cases.

North Duplin was recently named as the inaugural recipient of 2007 Sportsmanship Award, given by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

A Class 1-A program North Duplin bested the state's remaining schools -- in all four classifications -- to win the award.

"Well, I think it means a great deal," said North Duplin athletic director Ken Avent. "One school out of 368 is a pretty big honor. Being recognized in this way speaks well of our students, coaches and faculty."

The sportsmanship honor is designed to recognize a school which "has been ejection free, has a plan to promote and implement good sportsmanship, is welcoming to visiting fans, makes appropriate accommodations for officials and their own fans demonstrate good sportsmanship."

North Duplin has stayed ejection free for five of the past six years while maintaining a high excellence of behavior on the playing fields and in the stands.

Avent believes his school benefited from being a 7-12 school -- meaning the high school houses seventh through 12th grade. This gives the teachers and coaches more time to instill the message of good sportsmanship to the student-athletes.

For the most part, the message North Duplin passes to its student-athletes and fans is that of the golden rule -- treating others the way they would like to be treated.

This includes the utmost respect for opposing fans and officials who are given a safe and comfortable place to dress as well as refreshments.

At North Duplin, a variety of programs and policies are in place to help ensure students and fans will treat fellow students and officials with respect.

Parent meetings are held for each sport where guidelines are given as to what behavior is expected during the season. Coaches and team captains attend retreats to help create a sense of team unity. Visiting cheerleaders are even given a basket of candy before they head home.

It's out-of-the-box thinking such as this that may have just given North Duplin the edge over the rest of the high schools in North Carolina.

Avent says the school and the entire community should be very proud of the award.

"You like to be humble, but it's really a humbling award," he said. "Most people think sportsmanship awards go to a team that doesn't always play the best, but I think this award -- with our tradition -- to be recognized in this way speaks well to our coaches and the types of role models they are and how they are able to relate to the student-athletes.

"It's really meaningful to receive such an award."

With the award comes state-wide recognition, a trophy and banner for display in the school as well as a $1000 cash award. Avent plans to put the money to good use.

"It's not hard to find a place to spend money in a public school athletic fund," he said.