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Saquandra Heath | | October 20, 2017

NCAA names 2016-17 sportsmanship award winners

  Rachel Pease (left) and Evie Tate (right) help a BC runner cross the finish line at last year's ACC champs.

The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct is honoring Julia Reininga, current associate athletics director and head women’s volleyball coach at Southern Wesleyan, as the 2016-17 recipient of the Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award. The award recognizes her career-long demonstration of sportsmanship.

Six student-athletes also were selected by the committee to receive the 2016-17 NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Awards: Alex Bloom, track and field runner and health major at Cincinnati; Evie Tate, a cross country runner and health science major at Clemson; Rachel Pease, a cross country runner and health and human performance/exercise science major at Louisville; Pablo Jara, a soccer player and sport management major at Wingate; Thomas Caulfield, a track and field runner and business/economics major at St. Lawrence; and Maddie Pronovost, a track and field runner and neuroscience major at Middlebury.

The awards recognize the athletes and administrators who exemplify sportsmanship, one of the core principles of the NCAA.

Julia Reininga, Southern Wesleyan

Julia Reininga has greatly impacted Southern Wesleyan. In her many roles as associate athletics director, head women’s volleyball coach and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee liaison, Reininga has mastered the art of balancing all of her work, while also assisting Southern Wesleyan’s pivotal transition from the NAIA to the NCAA. 

Reininga’s ability to jump in and help in any way possible, while also producing phenomenal results, has left a lasting impact on one of her nominators — Chris Williams, Southern Wesleyan’s athletics director.

“She was key in helping SWU fine-tune our strategic plan for making our final step to the NCAA,” Williams wrote. “Today, with Julia’s help and guidance, SWU and Warrior Athletics has successfully made application to the NCAA Division II, been accepted as a full member of the NCAA Division II and has nearly completed our full first year with NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas.”

When she is not in the office, Reininga is on the court with her volleyball team, graciously welcoming all who enter the facility.

“She is not only respectful of officials and of other teams, but demonstrates a warm and inviting attitude toward them,” said another of Reininga’s nominators, Emily Germain, Southern Wesleyan’s faculty athletics representative. “Opponents are treated as guests and Coach Reininga goes out of her way to make sure all who visit our campus feel welcome.”

First awarded in 2009, the Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to honor an NCAA coach or administrator who exemplifies a lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct, leadership and promoting positive fan involvement.

Alex Bloom, Cincinnati

At the 2016 American Athletic Conference indoor track and field championships, Alex Bloom performed physically and ethically. Holding the lead for the heptathlon high jump, Bloom noticed he was credited with a higher clearance score than he actually jumped. Immediately, he alerted the officials of the inaccuracy, despite the negative impact it would have on his standings.

Bloom demonstrated true integrity, representing his team, athletics and university proudly.

“Those centimeters could have made a difference in the standings, but Alex knew that good sportsmanship and ethics was far more important than a few additional points,” said Maggie McKinley, Cincinnati’s executive senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator.

Rachel Pease, Louisville & Evie Tate, Clemson

These two cross country runners demonstrated the beauty of sportsmanship as a collaborative effort at last year's Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Louisville’s Rachel Pease was nearing the finish line when she witnessed Clemson’s Evie Tate tending to a Boston College runner.

Tate was helping the Boston College runner complete the race as Pease joined in. At least eight other runners passed by as the duo teamed up, demonstrating true compassion and sportsmanship to help a competitor cross the finish line. Pease and Tate ultimately sacrificed their finishing places to assist the struggling runner as, united, they crossed the finish line.

“We are proud of the way Rachel recognized that another student-athlete needed assistance and was able to help her, even though it affected her performance. We strive to teach our student-athletes to look out for one another, and Rachel took that to heart in her last race as a Cardinal,” said Christine Simatacolos, associate athletics director at Louisville.

Thomas Caulfield, St. Lawrence

At the Liberty League Outdoor Track and Field Championships, senior Thomas Caulfield was neck-and-neck with a Rochester Institute of Technology runner during the 5,000-meter run. The two had sprinted far ahead of the other runners and were nearing the end of the competition with a mile left to race.

Caulfield’s competitor ended up falling after their feet became tangled. Rather than using the fall to his advantage and seizing the lead, Caulfield helped the fallen runner to his feet. Although Caulfield ended up losing the race as he came in a few seconds behind his competitor, his sportsmanship won the day. 

“You see these kids come through our program and you hope they pick up the character traits and have the sportsmanship instilled that you hope to see out of people as graduates of our program,” said John Newman, St. Lawrence’s head track and field coach. “To see that happen right in front of your eyes, that was a proud moment for me to see him do that.”

Pablo Jara, Wingate

A Wingate soccer student-athlete, Pablo Jara celebrates the talent of his competitors before he rejoices in his own team’s victory. During the first round of the 2015 NCAA Division II tournament, Jara made Wingate’s clinching penalty kick to propel the Bulldogs to the regional semifinals. Immediately after, he approached Lander’s goalkeeper to congratulate him on a match well played.

Jara made a game-winning play, but praising his opponent’s talent and competitiveness remained his top priority. Jara displayed true sportsmanship by saluting the quality of the competition, rather than merely celebrating the outcome.

Maddie Pronovost, Middlebury

Maddie Pronovost, a native of China, was born during the country’s one-child policy and was given up for adoption by her biological parents. An American woman adopted Pronovost when she was about four months old and raised her in New England. Today, Pronovost is a track and field champion with several Middlebury school records, holds All-America status in the pentathlon and embodies true sportsmanship.

During track meets, Pronovost enjoys the opportunity to meet others from all over the country. She provides them with tips on technique and they wrap up the day with a group photo.

Her nominator, Martin Beatty, Middlebury’s head women’s track and field coach, believes Pronovost’s past built character. “Being well aware of her history, Maddie knows that all in life is precious, including her competitors,” Beatty noted. “I have had athletes with good sportsmanship, but Maddie takes it to the next level.”