Sussex Central High School celebrates another banner year in sportsmanship

2 DIAA award SCHS banner

Sussex Central High School received its banner as a 2015 recipient of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Sportsmanship Award at the Aug. 24 Indian River School District board of education meeting. From left, Nik Fair football coach), Shawn Tidwell (Athletic Director 2015/2016), Brian Parker Athletic Director 2014/2015), James Hudson (IRSD board president), Karen Irvin (field hockey coach), Arthur Uhlich (Sportsmanship Committee Chair), IRSD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting, Sussex Central High School Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield and DIAA Executive Director Kevin Charles. (Special to the Sussex County Post/David Maull),

GEORGETOWN – In the eyes of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic association, 2015 was a banner year for Sussex Central High School.

So was 2014.

Sportsmanship – not necessarily measured in league or state championships – is the name of the game and Sussex Central made the DIAA’s honor roll with a repeat feat.

Sussex Central was one of 17 schools statewide to earn the Sportsmanship Award for 2015.

“This is the second year in a row. We applied for it last year and we were lucky enough to get it on our first shot,” said Sussex Central High School Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield.

Kevin Charles, DIAA Executive Director, presented the banner Aug. 24 during the Indian River School District board of education meeting held at Sussex Central High School.

“What sets interscholastic athletics apart from other youth sports activities is we are education based,” said Mr. Charles. “We like to win; there is no question about it. We want to win championships. There is no question about that.”

“But our main goal is to get students to participate so that we can teach them life skills,” Mr. Charles added. “We look at the field of play as a classroom. We are there to teach those young men and women life skills. Life skills will serve them as they go on into life and make them better citizens, business leaders …”

“The best way that I can equate it is prior to becoming a principal I was a Social Studies teacher. And when you teach civics and government there is an entire unit and we try to show the importance of citizenship,” said Dr. Layfield. “All sportsmanship is … is good citizenship in the extra-curricular platform.”

A Golden Knight student athlete who might draw for example a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in football, or a red card in soccer can expect to be pulled from the game followed by a face-to-face meeting the morning of the next school day.

“They are going to be meeting with the athletic director and many times myself as the principal,” said Dr. Layfield.

Sometimes, student mistakes are used as a learning experience.

“Yeah, you might have felt cheated. You might have felt that it had an adverse effect on the team. But you’re an important part of the team and you do something acting out of anger, and not thinking things through, then you are not out on the playing field. And that doesn’t help the team,” Dr. Layfield said. “So it’s always best to keep that level head.”

According to Mr. Charles, a recent survey of the top 75 companies in the Fortune 500 showed that 95 percent of the upper-level administration participated in interscholastic athletics.

“And we think they become better husbands and wives, better parents and better civic leaders of the community,” said Mr. Charles.

The DIAA annually offers a statewide competition in sportsmanship. Member schools compete against a set of 10 standards, not against other schools.

The process is demanding and involves total school community involvement. Member schools submit an extensive application book – Sussex Central’s application was in a totally loaded five-inch binder – that is judged by the DIAA’s Sportsmanship Committee to determine if each school has successfully met the standards.

“It’s competition against a set of standards, and it’s a rigorous set of standards,” said Mr. Charles. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lot of work. It happens out of dedicated commitment of a number of individuals.”

Mr. Charles added that the sportsmanship program is intended to established “a school culture where sportsmanship is the expectation. It is the automatic reaction to an adverse situation. We do that engaging the entire school community … so that when the chips down and something bad happens we automatically respond in the

Sussex Central Way.’”

Next year Sussex Central shoots for the trifecta.

“I don’t want to say it’s easy to continue it but it is a little easier once you have an established policy and procedures in place to follow through or refine to make things better from that point forward,” said Dr. Layfield. “Our sincere hope is to continue our work and apply for it and at this time next year we’ll take that banner down again and add another year to it. That is our goal.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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