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John Blanchette: Displaying character off the field deserves a few award nominations

UPDATED: Sat., April 28, 2018, 8:31 p.m.

The Spokane Sports Commission has put out the call for nominations for the annual Spokane Youth Sports Awards it hands out each June in partnership with SWX. They’re to honor the year’s best athletes – with nods, say the criteria, to character, dedication, sportsmanship and service, as well.

What a coincidence. I happen to have a few nominations right here.

I nominate any athlete who, deciding that club sports are more important to his or her athletic future, goes all in on that and leaves a spot open on the high school varsity for another player who will get a letter out of the experience.

I nominate any kid whose first or last act of the day was to thank the team managers for their service.

I nominate any players frustrated with a lack of playing time who talked to the coach directly, without involving their parents.

I nominate any players who deflected entreaties – from peers or adults – to change schools and join a more successful program, and chose instead to play with the kids they’ve been with through grade school and junior high.

I nominate any athlete who was there to high-five the girls’ team at the end of their game, or the boys’ team at the end of theirs.

I nominate any player who, upon learning her parents emailed a sportswriter to complain that her lack of mentions in the newspaper will cost her a college scholarship, grounds them from their laptops for two weeks.

I nominate any player who receives a scholarship offer from a college and doesn’t immediately take to Twitter to proclaim how “blessed and humbled” he is – every single time.

I nominate any athlete who uses her Twitter account for shout-outs to parents, coaches, cheerleaders, the band, gymnastics judges, basketball referees, volleyball officials or track meet timers, however.

I nominate any athlete who tells the inquiring minds from Scout or Rivals or a newspaper – or especially adult Twitter followers – who press for details about last weekend’s recruiting visit that they should stop stalking.

I nominate any kid who demurs at holding a press conference to announce his college choice. Or if he does have one just to take care of any media interest in one quick hit, refuses to do the hokey flim-flam with the different hats on the table.

I nominate any kid who holds a press conference to announce her chemistry scholarship.

I nominate any basketball player who suggests to his athletic director that it would be more fun to play an in-town school in front of his friends, and not make a road trip across the state to improve the team’s RPI.

I nominate any football player who takes a pass on graduating early and enrolling at college in time for spring ball and instead runs track or plays center field – or just enjoys being a senior.

I nominate any kid who, upon finding himself on a 34-person All-GSL football team made up of players from all of four schools – because coaches can’t bear to disappoint any of their prize seniors – says, you know, these things should really recognize the 11 best on each side of the ball and that honorable mention is OK with him.

I nominate any basketball player who doesn’t look up into the stands for a parent’s affirmation or critique after every touch.

I nominate any kid who reasons that he tried his best and so did all of his teammates and they had a great season that was a lot of fun, so he doesn’t need an expanded state tournament field to validate his athletic experience.

I nominate any athlete who tells Mom and Dad she loves them for coming to every game. But the first time they get on the coach about not getting the ball enough, she’s taking up the oboe.

I nominate any basketball player who – with appropriate respect – advises the AAU coach that it’s time to stop playing zone.

I nominate any athlete who, instead of planning to walk on to a college team just to keep the dream alive, decides to get into officiating on nights and weekends and serves the game that way.

I nominate any kids who urge their high school coaches to skip the summer team camp that’s nothing but game after game after game in favor of working on skills instead.

I nominate any kid who reports hazing.

I nominate any kid who stands up for the kid who reports hazing, even if it pisses off his buddies on the team.

I nominate any athlete who takes time to thank his parents for their sacrifices – and those who start a family conversation as to whether all money being shelled out for club team coaches, travel, personal trainers, shot doctors, summer 7-on-7 and the like might be more wisely invested in a college fund.

I know. That’s a lot of nominees. So give them all awards.

Sometimes, participation trophies get a bad rap.


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