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Cedar Key School recognized again for outstanding sportsmanship

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By Sean Arnold

Cedar Key School takes its sportsmanship seriously, and it’s been awarded again for its efforts.

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The school, which is the smallest public school by enrollment in Florida, received this month the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award for Class 1A for the fourth time in six years.

The award is issued by the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) to schools from each classification “whose total sports program best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship as demonstrated by its coaches, players and spectators.”

“It’s something we kind of hang our hat on for the athletic program,” CKS principal Josh Slemp. “It’s something that we really communicate to our fans and student athletes and our coaches, and really make sure sportsmanship is one of our top things.”

Fifteen high schools and two middles school around the state received the award this year. A first-place recipient from each classification – and a runner-up for most classifications – were recognized, as well as a couple of middle schools. The winning schools received $2,500, while runner-ups were given $500.

A school is not allowed to nominate itself for the award, which has been given annually since 1991. The criteria for its selection include: “programs and activities implemented within the school and community to promote sportsmanship; the number and type of unsporting conduct ejections; and the number and type of exceptional sportsmanship reports.”

“Good sportsmanship gives student-athletes, coaches, fans, and family members the opportunity to enjoy a more wholesome environment in which all can share a better experience,” FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing said in a press release. “We strive to instill this principle into all of our athletes in the state of Florida. These habits can be used well-beyond the confines of a stadium or ballpark. We are happy to recognize these schools and their student-athletes who exemplify not only sportsmanship, but teamwork and citizenship as well.”

Cedar Key was the only school selected for Class 1A. Slemp says the funds will go toward the school’s athletic program.

“It’s not money that we count on, but it definitely helps, whether it’s entry fees or whatever,” Slemp said.

In addition to the sportsmanship honor, CKS had an exemplary year on the courts and in the fields. The school held its first college athletic signing ceremony, as standout student athlete Ashlyn Allen penned her commitment to play softball at St. Petersburg College next year. Allen also set new school marks in shot put. Both the baseball and softball teams finished on high notes, with the latter losing just one game on the season. The Lady Sharks had their most successful season in recent memory on the basketball court behind a crop of young talent led by Jasmin Jackson.

“We’ve really got great spring coaching going on and a great group of kids,” Slemp said. “For how small we are, we definitely hold our weight.”

For more on the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award, see http://www.fhsaa.org/news/2017/0612.