The National High School Spirit of Sport Award is annually conferred to eight section recipients as well as one national recipient. The recipient must be an individual from a high school that is a member of an NFHS-member athletic or activity association.
Zach Pickett, a water polo player at Shingle Springs (California) Ponderosa High School, has swum competitively since age 5, including three years as a talented player on the Ponderosa High School varsity water polo team. At an athletic 6-foot-1 with great upper-body strength, his athletic future appeared very bright.
That all changed forever on the hot summer afternoon of August 5, 2012.
With the temperature a sultry 100 degrees, Pickett and his longtime friends Hayden Cooksy and Frankie Kennedy were on break from their lifeguarding duties at Cameron Lake Park and dove into the water to cool off.
While Cooksy and Kennedy essentially belly-flopped, Pickett instead lowered his head into a diving motion and struck a sandbar submerged in the murky shallow water. That action crushed his seventh vertebra, compressing it into his spinal cord. As a result, Pickett was instantly paralyzed from the chest down.
Two Kentucky high schools from opposite ends of the state – separated by nearly 300 miles and until recently strangers to each other – are the 2013 recipients of the NFHS’ National High School Spirit of Sport Award.
Those two high schools – Magoffin County High School in Salyersville at the foothills of the Appalachians in the eastern part of the state and Logan County High School in Russellville out west – had not traditionally been opponents or rivals in sports, nor do they have much in common. However, they were brought together in a manner that changed both schools and communities forever.
Goldberg does volunteer work at an Alzheimer’s Day Care center, studies macular degeneration and diabetes under the direction of a doctor, and in 2007 cofounded with his sister, Rachael, “Together We See,” a foundation that has raised more than $45,000 to help send blind and disabled youth to summer camp.
Goldberg is extremely active within the school, as he is a member of several clubs, including the Pine Crest Beta Club, the Spanish Honor Society and the Math Club.
Umpire Bill Dithrich correctly called “illegal pitch,” which enabled Wilmington’s Ashley Gardner to trot home from third and score the winning run. In that split-second, Wilmington won the game, 5-4, and Valley’s perfect season and shot at the state title were both summarily dashed.
Shortly thereafter, the Valley High School booster club sought a keynote speaker for its June 29th year-end softball banquet. Eric Felack, an umpire and a Valley High School team booster, came up with what many might have considered to be a very improbable choice – none other than Dithrich himself.
Tori Clark, a student-athlete at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois, has been selected the 2010 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Dakota is one of the top wrestlers on the Star Valley wrestling team, which comes as no surprise to the community. His father, who grew up in the same town, also was an outstanding wrestler for the school.
On the way back from a tournament in Riverton, Wyoming, in February 2008, the Dana family vehicle was hit coming down a mountain by a semitrailer truck that had lost control. Dakota's parents and older brother Scott were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Dakota's mother was killed on impact, and his father died several weeks later in the hospital. His brother was bedridden for several months, but is learning to walk again after the accident.
Tammy Dufford, cheerleading coach at Evergreen (Colorado) High School, and her freshman cheerleader, Megan Bomgaars, have been selected as the 2008 national recipients of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).