Sept. 24, 2008
|In an effort to highlight good sportsmanship around the conference, every two weeks, theACC.com will highlight a specific example of sportsmanship from a different school. This week, Caitlin Augustin, a rower from Miami, talks about sportsmanship at the 'U' and how several former student-athletes have taken lessons learned on the field to far corners of the world.
"We are the 'U' and each team supports the other: from attendance at games, meets, races and regattas to peer mentoring where upperclassmen advise and support incoming students."
On Monday night, here at the 'U' we had our first group student-athlete meeting. Our new AD Kirby Hocutt started the evening on a theme of camaraderie and sportsmanship. What he stressed was not just our athletic successes (Go 'Canes!) but the successes off the field. Football Coach Randy Shannon quickly picked up on this theme, and introduced the concept of a Hecht Center family-a team-first mentality that unites all Hurricanes in victory and defeat, sportsmanship that encourages each athlete to pick each other up and continue striving towards total success.
At Miami, sportsmanship is ingrained. We are the 'U' and each team supports the other: from attendance at games, meets, races and regattas to peer mentoring where upperclassmen advise and support incoming students. We are a unique family-we are one of a few schools where all teams share the same weight room; each athlete studies in the same computer lab; and each coach and administrator makes a point to know the athletes from all different parts of the department. With this, we have built a system of respect and trust that allows every member of our athletic family to encourage work ethic, discipline, and rising to the challenge.
Sportsmanship can be viewed traditionally. It is exhibited from childhood athletics to the Olympics. As youth soccer players we shook hands with the other team at the end of games; in high school basketball we high-fived our opponents once the points were tallied. As collegiate rowers, we yell 'good race!' to our competition once all boats have crossed the finish line. But this is only one component of sportsmanship. It might be easier to demonstrate sportsmanship within an institute, or opponents at the end of a single competition, but it is inspiring to watch is how athletes carry sportsmanship into the ACC, the NCAA, and into everyday life.
Sportsmanship is a sign of respect to that is born of sport but rises above it. One of the best examples I've seen was how the entire Atlantic Coast Conference rallied around Virginia Tech when shootings occurred in 2007. UVA cast aside a decades-long rivalry with an outpouring of donations and support-including a banner signed by all the student-athletes. University of Miami donated the proceeds from that April baseball game toward the Hokie Relief Fund. The entire ACC commemorated the event by wearing a black rectangle on their jerseys for the 2007-08 season. It was a time to put aside rivalries and support the ACC , not individual schools.
In the ACC we cheer for the conference; we cheer for the athletes who make it to the NCAA competition or into the Olympics. We assist each other in tragedy and celebrate in the successes; and this is another aspect of sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship is a character attribute that stays with an athlete. It is an ethos of commitment to selflessness, a team-first mentality. It is exhibited through work ethic and respect. While it is expected that athletes demonstrate sportsmanship while in uniform, it is a testament to the person who carries it outside of competition.
University of Miami is home to exceptional sportsmen and women, and I have had the honor to wear the Hurricane colors alongside them. Each athlete exhibits sportsmanship in his/her own way-and once they have graduated and become alumni of our fine athletic programs, the teachings and credo of sportsmanship remains with them.
Billy Bludgus, class of 2005 was an All-American cross country runner for the University of Miami. As a sportsman, he lead his team during four years at the university, he was an officer of our SAAC and was involved at the ACC level. After graduation, he carried this commitment to hard work and selflessness into a two-year teaching program in Tanzania.