By: Claire O’Rourke and Uma Ribeiro
Features and Co-News Editor
Hammond has received the HCPSS Sportsmanship Cup for the fourth time, truly demonstrating the positive teamwork Hammond’s sports teams reflect on a daily basis. With encouraging coaches and helpful teammates, it is no surprise that Hammond has been the recipient of this award four times in the past five years among all the other high schools within the county. Dr. DiPaula and Mr. Lerner were presented with the award by the HCPSS Board of Education.
Mr. Lerner, Hammond’s athletic director, commented on winning the award, saying “The award is a big deal. It’s the only athletic award that is recognized by the Board of Education. We have great kids and our coaches really enjoy what they do. One of the things [our coaches] try and do in addition to teaching the kids the sport is teaching them the right way to win and the right way to lose: to win with class and lose with class. We’re also always hospitable to our opponents and when we are at away facilities we try and leave them better than we found them. Our kids and coaches are doing the right thing, and that’s really why we win the award so often.”
Sportsmanship at Hammond is seen everywhere, he continued. “You see [sportsmanship] all over the place. In athletic contests, like, [for instance], in wrestling contests, after [a wrestler] pins a kid, we might help them off the mat, and our kids don’t gloat if we win, and they don’t pout if they lose. Hammond is so great because we are so diverse and people really get along well. It’s pretty incredible to see, so not only is [sportsmanship demonstrated] within our athletics program, but it is in our whole school as well.”
The Sportsmanship Cup is not only impactful to our directors here at Hammond, but also holds meaning for many of the individual athletes.
The athletes agree with these statements and their contribution to winning the award has been recognized by Lerner and other coaches alike. Cross Country Sophomore Marie Pejicic commented about “the dedication of the athletes who love their team so much that they keep coming back and training over the Summer and throughout the year so that they get better at their sports because they care so much. This [has led Hammond to continuously win this award]. Also, the dedication of the coaches who are really passionate about the sport and [about] coaching it definitely contributes [to winning the Sportsmanship Cup].”
She added the importance of the coaches’ influence unto the athletes, stating, “…we’re more interested in being good at the sport, but also having fun while doing it. We’re not one of those schools where you have coaches yelling at the athletes and pushing them to the point where they break down. It’s more encouraging and more focused on fun…[we show sportsmanship] by doing what’s best for the team over what might be best for [us, as individuals. We work] with the team, and make sure everybody who may not [always be able to keep pace with the top runners] has the encouragement to be able to make progress.”
Golf and baseball athlete Junior Tim Stryker also commented on the win, stating, “[when we lose games], we know how to lose respectfully and not get angry. In golf, there is quite a lot of sportsmanship. We shake hands and are respectful to our opponents and each other. And, in baseball, after each game we shake hands with the other team.”
Junior David Aodu, a basketball player at Hammond, commented, “I believe Hammond has won this award year after year because of the welcoming presence that Hammond has whether it is sporting, school or extracurricular events…Hammond is always ensuring that our visitors are treated equally no matter their backgrounds…the sportsmanship [at Hammond] is unique because of our persistent efforts to uphold and live up to the unwritten moral standards that each and every [athlete] holds.”
Hammond athletes and coaches alike are proud to have won the 2019 Sportsmanship Cup yet again. As Mr. Lerner said, “We’re a family more than I see at any other school. Every school talks about family and every school has a cheer about family when it comes to sports, but with Hammond you actually see it. We have a lot of the coaches share athletes, there are multi-sport athletes, the athletes go to each others games, they cheer for each other, they don’t tear each other down. It is a family and that’s what we want to see…You hear a lot about some of the higher profile schools in Howard County that may have better facilities, but it’s not about that, it’s about the kids, and that’s what [Hammond] is all about.”