Congratulations to the Altoona Girls Tennis Team! 

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”  

Sports journalist Grantland Rice first said this famous quote in 1908, but it’s still relevant today. Good sportsmanship stems from how the team, school, and fans treat the athletes, coaches, and officials before, during, and after a tournament. We believe good sportsmanship makes the athletes true champions, which is why we’ve sponsored the WIAA Rural Mutual Sportsmanship Award for over 55 years. 

We’re happy to congratulate the Altoona High School Girls Tennis Team on earning the Sportsmanship Award for the 2023-2024 season! When asked what winning this award meant to the team and the community, Head Coach Greg Emerson said: 

“We are very blessed to have been chosen for this prestigious award. As a team, winning this award is a testament to the girls’ commitment to fair play, respect, and integrity. They have demonstrated great sportsmanship on and off the court in many ways and it is wonderful to have them recognized for this through the WIAA. It signifies that they’ve not only excelled in skill and competition but also demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, fostering a positive team culture. 

To the community, it reflects the school’s dedication to instilling values of integrity and camaraderie in its athletes, making the entire community proud of the team’s achievements both on and off the court. This was such a wonderful team and a very supportive community.” 

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game, which is why it’s important to start teaching children about sportsmanship while they’re young. Good sportsmanship can help children develop values that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

Coach Emerson says he begins teaching his players what integrity means and looks like starting in middle school. “I believe sportsmanship is so important because it sets the foundation for lifelong values, contributing to the overall growth and development of individuals beyond the tennis court. These high school athletes are at a formative stage and fostering good sportsmanship helps shape their character. It can help define who the athlete wants to be and mold them into a person of integrity.” Staying positive, even in the face of loss, is also another lesson he focuses on when teaching sportsmanship as well as the Golden Rule, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” 

On Coach Emerson’s team and at Altoona High School, they believe sportsmanship sets the foundation for lifelong values and contributes to the overall growth and development of individuals beyond the court.  

Coach Emerson has been coaching for 30 years and has spent 24 of those years in Altoona. This past season, the tennis team went 26-0 and unknowingly inspired another team.

After the season, another coach approached me and said he took his middle school team to watch the Individual State Tournament and were cheering for the Altoona girls, even though they didn’t know it. He said his girls were inspired by Altoona’s drive, character, and positive attitude as they lost a doubles match and came from behind to win a tiebreaker without giving up hope. The coach also said his team wanted to go home and make up a drill called the ‘Altoona Drill.’ I still get tears in my eyes from that moment. I couldn’t be prouder to be an Altoona Railroader!” 

Congratulations to the Altoona Railroaders on a great season and winning the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship Award!