WACO, Texas — Hoisting up the National Championship trophy at the end of the year is always a great feeling and accomplishment, but there's another prestigious award that goes beyond the competition field. The annual NCEA Team Sportsmanship award is a coveted honor that reflects on the outstanding nature of the athletes themselves.The 2017 Norton Family NCEA Team Sportsmanship trophy was presented to the Delaware State equestrian team for humility in victory and defeat, and for outstanding character displayed by the student-athletes and coaching staff.
"This means more to me than anything because it means that my student-athletes have integrity and sportsmanship," Delaware State head coach Jennifer Ridgely said. "In the long run, no one is going to remember who won the championship 30 years from now, but they're going to remember relationships that they made with kids that were positive. This is going to go a long way to getting them hired."
The Norton Family NCEA Team Sportsmanship trophy was donated by Carly Anthony and Potcreek Meadow Farm.
"For the last 14 years my mother's barn, Potcreek Meadow Farm, has sponsored the Junior Sportsmanship Award at Thermal, and now at WEF," Anthony said. "And over the years the winners of the award have been top junior riders like Kylee Arbuckle (Georgia), who not only are spectacular riders but great and humble competitors. Sportsmanship is such a key element of competition and as this award shows, it separates the good riders from the great riders. I wanted to bring this award to the NCAA because great sportsmanship from a team aspect should not only be the norm, but should be held at the forefront of the team's mission. This award is to inspire teams to be great winners as well as humble losers, and use adversity as a pathway for responsibility and success. Thank you Champions Choice Trophy for donating the incredible trophy!"
For Ridgely, sportsmanship is a huge aspect of how she coaches her team. She and her coaching staff focus on creating a well-rounded individual that will have the tools to succeed in anything they choose to do in life.
Delaware State also won the Norton Family NCEA Team Sportsmanship award in 2013.
"You can still win and have good sportsmanship," Ridgely said. "You don't have to be a poor sport to be a winner."