Sportsmanship gets a lot of lip service in collegiate athletics, but there’s no box to record that score and it counts for nothing when it comes to being declared champion, putting a winning season in the record books, or attracting the attention of a media – and a larger culture – that is obsessed with winning.
Early in the last century, sportswriter and poet Grantland Rice made famous a sentiment that Grove City College athletics holds at its core. Rice’s famous couplet declares that “when the One Great Scorer comes/To mark against your name,/He writes - not that you won or lost -/But HOW you played the Game.”
How the individual student-athletes, teams and coaches that together make up Grove City College’s 22 NCAA Division III teams stand in that assessment means something much more than how many wins they claim or records they break.
That was evident recently when five of Grove City College's seven varsity teams whose primary season of competition is during the fall sports season – Wolverine football, men's soccer, women's soccer, women's tennis and women's volleyball – were honored as the 2016 Presidents' Athletic Conference Team Sportsmanship Award recipients, as voted on by the league coaches in their respective sports.
And in December, former Grove City College Director of Athletics and chairman of the Department of Exercise Science Dr. Don Lyle accepted the NCAA’s Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award. Lyle, who stewarded Wolverine athletics for decades, retired in 2016 after 43 years with the College. He was instrumental in creating a program that mirrors the culture of Grove City College.
"We take great pride in our student-athletes’ overall experience at Grove City College," said Todd Gibson, Director of Athletics. "At the top of our priorities is ensuring that our student-athletes display the highest degree of sportsmanship and character in working together as a team while at the same time striving for excellence and success in their venue of competition.
Wolverine teams have won a total of 45 Team Sportsmanship Awards since the award was instituted in 2008. That accounts for more than a quarter of the awards issued by the conference and as many as the second- and third-place schools combined. Wolverine teams have earned the most Team Sportsmanship Awards in six of the eight full years that the honor has existed, and 15 different Grove City programs have won at least one Team Sportsmanship Award.
The Wolverine women's soccer team leads all programs in the conference by having won the Team Sportsmanship award in eight of nine seasons of the award's existence while women's volleyball has earned the honor seven times and men's soccer six times.
For more about Grove City College athletics, visit www.gcc.edu/sports.