For the second time in four years, Lake Region High School has been recognized for achievement in sportsmanship.
The Florida High School Athletic Association announced the 14 high schools to receive this year’s Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award on June 4. It was another proud moment for Lake Region, which received first-place honors in Class 5A ahead of runner-up Panama City Beach Arnold High.
“Being selected as the number one school in the state in Class 5A by the FHSAA in the name of Mr. Rozelle is an extreme honor,” Lake Region Athletic Director Bill Bullock wrote in an email. “He was an outstanding leader. The most important thing about high school athletics is not wins and losses. Those are nice but teaching young student-athletes how to play the game with character is more important than anything.
“Respecting the game and all associated with it is a value that our young athletes all possess and will carry with them throughout life and make them successful in anything that they desire to accomplish,” he continued. “It is also an outstanding accomplishment by our administration, led by our principal, Mary Jo Costine, and all of our outstanding coaches to help promote playing the game within the rules and supporting the real values of high school athletics. We are very proud to represent Polk County and the City of Eagle Lake as we were selected number one out of around 100 schools in our class.”
In 2017, Lake Region was a runner-up for the award in Class 7A.
Winter Haven High School was a Class 6A sectional winner in 2015, All Saints Academy was the Class 2A overall recipient in 2000 and a Class 1A sectional winner in 2010 and Haines City was a Class 5A sectional winner in 2000.
The award, which is named in honor of FHSAA Commissioner Emeritus Fred E. Rozelle and has been presented annually since 1991, was given to member schools whose athletic teams “demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship” by its coaches, players and spectators on and off the field during the 2019-2020 regular season and the FHSAA State Series competition.
First-place high schools — which also received $2,500 and a plaque — were selected this year in each of seven classifications. Criteria for selection of the winners included programs and activities implemented within the school and community to promote sportsmanship, the number and type of exceptional sportsmanship reports and the source of the nomination.
“Our Association strives to promote and reward the outstanding sportsmanship that our member schools show on and off the field or court,” FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn said in a press release. “The teamwork and citizenship that our student-athletes exemplify is a tribute to their maturity and will benefit them as they move on to their professional careers and service to their respective communities. We are thrilled to recognize these schools not only for their tremendous sportsmanship, but for their contribution to the next generation of Floridians.”