We believe there’s something more important than just winning or losing a tournament. We believe that the team, school, and fans who support their athletes with dignity and class are the true champions. That’s why we’ve proudly sponsored the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award for more than 50 years.
We would like to congratulate the Ellsworth Wrestling Team on being this year’s recipient of the Sportsmanship Award. It is the fourth time the Panthers have received the award in wrestling. They were also recognized for their sportsmanship efforts in 1999, 2008 and 2010.
When interviewing Head Coach, Mark Matzek, he shared with us what winning the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award means to him and the team:
This award serves as reassurance to my staff and I that we are having the kind of positive influence we intend to have on the young men we coach. This award to the team shows their hard work and dedication to the sport of wrestling was noticed, win or lose. Since the staff and team is an extension of the Ellsworth community, I hope this brings pride to everyone living in our community.
At Ellsworth, we rarely speak of sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is ingrained within the true spirit of wrestling. Athletes shake hands before the dual, before the match, after the match, and after the dual. I cannot think of another sport where athletes shake hands as much as wrestling. Understanding how to win and lose with dignity and class is a vital skill for everyone to have in life. I am not saying it is easy to accept defeat after the countless hours of training and sacrifice, but that happens in our sport, in every sport, and as long as an athlete can honestly say they gave it all they had, they can walk off the mat holding their head high no matter what the outcome.
I have been coaching since the fall of 2005. I have been an assistant coach at Augsburg College, the head coach at Augsburg College, and have been the head wrestling coach at Ellsworth High School for the past four years. My favorite part of coaching is the relationships I have been able to create with my athletes. The coach/athlete relationship is very unique and special. You share daily, weekly, and season long victories and adversity. I have been blessed to have had multiple Hall of Fame coaches myself as an athlete. I hope to provide my athletes the same experience I had – which was an experience second to none.
On behalf of Rural Mutual Insurance, congratulations again on a great season and a great achievement for the Ellsworth community.
Rural Mutual Insurance has been a sponsor of the WIAA Sportsmanship Award since it was started in 1965. The Sportsmanship Award recognizes the entire community for their conduct and appreciation for good sportsmanship – not just the athletes and coaches – but their fans and community and how they present themselves at state tournament events. Click here to learn how to win the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship Award.