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 Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld Girls Soccer team on being this year’s recipient of the Girls Soccer Sportsmanship award. It is first time the cooperative program of Wisconsin Heights/Barneveld has been selected with the Sportsmanship Award in girls’ soccer.
When talking with Head Coach, Bartlett Holmes we asked him what this award meant to him as a coach, the team and community along with how they teach their athletes about sportsmanship:
I could not be more proud of the team. I have watched these girls push themselves to their limits and meet every challenge they have faced with grace and integrity. Even when the game is physical, or the score is beyond reach in either direction, I know I can count on my players to uphold the integrity I, as a coach, as well as the Wisconsin Heights community, encourage and expect. They set the climate and they have lived up to all my expectations for showing who they are by how well they conduct themselves.
What a great reward to be given recognition for being good sports! This team has shown true generosity and compassion for their fellow teammates as well as opponents under competitive, emotional, and challenging circumstances. They are very excited to be recognized by the WIAA for the positive qualities of their character. It is also a great beacon for future players to live up to.
We have an amazing fan base and as a small school a real grassroots feel to our community who go above and beyond to support the team. The fans, parents, and school are all very happy for the girls to receive the sportsmanship award because above all else, upholding these strong values are the tangible foundation of Wisconsin Heights. This community is truly all heart, and everyone is very grateful for this award.
Integrity and sportsmanship go hand in hand. I have high expectations for students’ athletes to demonstrate they are people of integrity on and off the field. As a coach I realize my players are students first and there are many opportunities for growth as individuals and as a team when challenges arise. We talk about how to handle frustrating situations and what it means to be a good sport and keep the spirit of the game in tact no matter the circumstance. I appreciate the players’ willingness to learn from our experiences and we use specific situations in our team circles to educate and practice expectations of character. One of the first tools I use to build community within our team is the concept of UBUNTU -“I am because you are.” If one person loses their cool on the field they sacrifice the wellbeing of the whole team, the Wisconsin Heights community reputation, and potentially affect the other team negatively. There are many times on the field when this concept must be in the forefront of awareness in order to truly stay positive and self-disciplined in the heat of the moment. The goal of unpacking this concept is to help the players understand how much their behavior influences the sports experience and I find they really work hard to hold each other accountable and support each other. Sportsmanship is the most important aspect of the game – it keeps players safe both physically and emotionally and that is what really matters.
Being part of the team and connecting with these amazing kids is my favorite part of coaching. We are really fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive community of parents and fans who really help the program thrive. I truly enjoy getting to know each individual on the team and watch them grow over the years not just as soccer players but as people.
This is Coach Holmes 7th year coaching at Wisconsin Heights. He has coached the boys’ team for the past 7 years and the girls program the last 5. His favorite part of coaching is being part of the team and connecting with these amazing kids. He commented that he is fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive community of parents and fans who really help the program thrive. He truly enjoys getting to know each individual on the team and watch them grow over the years not just as soccer players but as people.
Congratulations on a great season and a great achievement for the Wisconsin Height 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.