Contributed by Brookline Athletics
In ball sports, sportsmanship is easy to identify: athletes are expected to play fair, shake hands and stop if someone gets injured. However, in racing sports where athletes compete individually, there are no regular practices surrounding sportsmanship.
This year, the girls swim and dive team received the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes high school sports teams with outstanding athletic integrity during competition. The honor recognizes consistent sportsmanship exhibited by the team throughout the past several competitive seasons.
According to girls swim and dive coach Jim Stallings, one of the reasons the team won the award was because of their enthusiastic support of other teams. Stallings explained that during competition, the Brookline team consistently cheers for both their own teammates and athletes on other teams.
“They’re always cheering for each other, every moment. If anyone comes to a BHS meet and is here, they’ll see it. They’re constantly cheering on both sides of the pool, and it’s loud,” Stallings said.
In addition to the cheering, another way many of the athletes demonstrate their support of other teams is through friendly interaction with opposing athletes.
“What I do, and what a lot of other girls do to the people standing next to us on the blocks, is before you race, just wish them luck, and afterwards, say ‘Good job, that was a really nice swim,’” senior Victoria Ter-Ovanesyan said.
Also, the swim team demonstrated their sportsmanship this year through accepting their losses along with their wins. Coming off of an undefeated season, the team faced two early losses, before finishing with a strong 10-2 record.
“When we lost to Newton North and Wellesley, it was the first two meets in, and it’s always tough to lose to rivals. But it didn’t demoralize the girls at all, they held their heads up high,” Stallings said.
According to senior and captain Ali Keenan, experiencing a few losses this season has been a valuable learning experience.
“For a lot of the freshman and sophomores this year was the first year that we had lost in their high school careers, so I think we really took those losses with grace,” Keenan said.
Although the team has experienced extremely successful seasons in past years, Keenan believes that sportsmanship remains the most important part of the competitive swimming experience.
“I’m really proud of my teammates, I think that it’s more important for us to be nice people than swim fas00t or dive really well,” Keenan said. “You just have to swim as fast as you can that day and have fun and be a nice person. That’s really all that matters.”