Shelby County schools honored for good sportsmanship

The Shelby County High School coaching staff has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to student-athlete behavior.

“We let them know through practice, games and in any situation, there are certain things we’re not going to tolerate,” said Shelby County athletic director and boys’ basketball coach Charles Dickinson. “We don’t tolerate temper tantrums on the field or on the court.”

The strict policy has paid off for the Wildcats, who will be recognized for the second year in a row July 14 at the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Sportsmanship Luncheon.

In addition to Shelby County, Briarwood Christian School, Calera High School and Westminster School at Oak Mountain will be recognized for good sportsmanship at the luncheon. Westminster is also being recognized for good sportsmanship for the second consecutive season. Calera is being recognized for the second time after receiving the award following the 2007-2008 season.

Indian Springs School, which was recognized for good sportsmanship following the 2008-2009 season, is the only other Shelby County school to receive the award in its three-year history.

The luncheon is sponsored by Mt Laurel’s Learning Through Sports, the organization that developed the AHSAA’s unique STAR Sportsmanship program that was mandated by the AHSAA Central Board of Control for all schools prior to the 2007-08 school year.

A total of 125 high schools will receive recognition and either a banner or a patch for not having a single fine or ejection during the 2009-2010 season. Shelby County will receive a special patch to place on the banner it received following the 2008-2009 season.

A school from each of the AHSAA’s eight districts will also receive a $1,000 grant. All four Shelby County schools reside in District 5.

Dickinson said sportsmanship is an important part of the Shelby County athletic program. School reputation is as important as athletic success, Dickinson said.

“We want to be known as a classy program,” Dickinson said. “In order to be classy, you have to have good sportsmanship.”

In addition to perfect sportsmanship, the Wildcats had plenty of success on the field and court in 2009-2010. The Shelby County football team completed a two-year run with a 19-1 regular season record, the Wildcats’ boys’ basketball team won an area championship and the baseball team advanced to the third round of the Class 5A playoffs for the first time in school history.

The Shelby County softball team advanced to the Class 5A Central region tournament.

Dickinson, who will accept the award from AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese at the luncheon, put the sportsmanship award on equal ground with the Wildcats’ athletic accomplishments.

“It’s extremely important,” Dickinson said. “We’re thrilled to death. I’m glad to be able to walk up there and receive the award. We’re very proud of it. It’s a state title.”