BOSTON, Dec. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Youth sports should provide a fun, social and character-building experience, but too often the public focus is put on negative events and poor sportsmanship. As a result, earlier this year Liberty Mutual Insurance and Positive Coaching Alliance embarked on a search for demonstrations of sportsmanship, sacrifice and selflessness at the youth sports and amateur sports levels in an effort to identify the "Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments" of 2011. Today, after receiving almost 100 nominations on Facebook that spotlight and celebrate the positive impact and power of youth sports, Liberty Mutual and PCA are honoring these moments and the young people behind them.
A judging panel including Kirk Herbstreit, Julie Foudy, PCA Founder Jim Thompson and PCA regional directors, and executives from Responsible Sports partner organizations (American Softball Association, USA Hockey, US Youth Soccer, American Youth Soccer Organization and USA Wrestling) considered each nominated moment for attributes such as spotlighting the positive impact sports can have on children's lives, exemplifying sportsmanship and responsibility, showcasing leadership and displaying a teaching/learning moment.
Liberty Mutual will award $1,000 to the organizations behind each of these "Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments" of 2011:
- St. Mary's of Lynn (Mass.) ends 100 win streak but congratulates Hingham HS - After St. Mary's of Lynn lost in the Massachusetts Division 1 girls ice hockey quarterfinals to Hingham High School, ending a 100-game winning streak that spanned four seasons, senior captain Sabrina Iannetti boarded her opponents' bus, congratulated the team who ended her high school career two games short of perfection, and promised that St. Mary's would cheer them on through the rest of the state tournament.
- Andover (Minn.) HS runner carries Lakeville South opponent to finish race - Running in a recent cross country meet for Andover High, Josh Ripley, a junior varsity runner was making his way through the trail at the Applejack Invite when he heard a loud scream during the first mile of the two-mile race. Most of the other kids running didn't pay much attention to Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas, who was writhing in pain at the time, as they passed by but Ripley stopped and carried the injured runner a half mile back to coaches and family members.
- Oyster River (N.H.) HS special needs student/manager given her moment in the spotlight - Kate Messler, an Oyster River High School (Durham, N.H.) senior and player/manager for the varsity girls basketball team, cheered for her team each game but never got a chance to play. Until this year, when for the first time, Kate, a special needs student with a developmental disorder, was called into a game to start the second half. She sank two three-point shots, including one at the buzzer!
- Episcopal Academy (Pa.) rowers stop to help capsized opponents during race - James Konopka and Nick Mead of Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa. were cruising along in the Under-17 doubles race when they passed a capsized St. Joseph's Prep boat. They both agreed they should go back and help those in the other boat who were yelling 'help' even though they were competitors. They stayed with the Prep boys until a launch arrived. Hopelessly behind, the Episcopal rowers nevertheless completed the race.
- Tabor Academy (Mass.) student athlete gives back to community on top of athlete prowess - Torin Zonfrelli, a two-sport captain at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass., started a full-fledged charity and has led a number of urgent need drives to help those who are considered "less privileged." Zonfrelli started The Zonfrelli Project, dedicated to donating food to families and individuals in need. Eventually, the 17-year-old had enough support to supply the church food pantry at St. Anthony's church in New Bedford, Mass., every Thursday.
- Suffield Academy (Conn.) donates uniforms and equipment to tornado-devastated lacrosse team - Springfield (Mass.) Cathedral High's lacrosse team had nearly all of its facilities and equipment demolished by the EF-3 tornado that tore through the state on June 1. That storm hit at a particularly uncooperative time, with the program nearing what was widely considered the most significant game in program history: a playoff matchup against West Springfield (Mass.) High, one of Cathedral's conference rivals. Another area rival -- Suffield Academy in Connecticut -- donated its entire stock of uniforms, helmets and gloves to help Cathedral get on the field.
- Fennville (Mich.) Players Rally for Lost Teammate's Family – Following the death of Wes Leonard, star player on Fennville High School basketball team who collapsed after a game-winning shot, different members of the team slept at the Leonard house each night, helping keep the family company while they adjusted to life without their oldest son. Leonard's family said they plan to be involved in future prevention efforts geared at helping other teenagers scan for and avoid the heart defects which eventually led to their son's death.
- Ohio U-11 AYSO soccer coach encourages team to play through referee blunder with responsibility and grace - During a competitive U11 AYSO travel soccer match in Avon, Ohio, a coach displayed true sportsmanship to his team. Facing a strong opponent, his team was winning by a goal late in the game. The referee made a call in his team's favor, yet mistakenly awarded the direction of the free kick to the other team. His players still confused by the call, an opposing player shot and scored into an unguarded net. The teenaged referee realized his mistake and crouched down with his head in his hands. The coach walked onto the field, placed his hand on the referee's shoulder and spoke to him. He then said aloud to his team, "it is a goal boys, no worries, now let's play soccer." His team rallied and ended up winning the match.
- 8-year-old catcher in Maryland helps scared batter take his first swing – 8-year-old Trevor Yusko, a catcher for a minor league youth baseball team in Frederick, Md., was catching when a player on the other team was scared to death to step into the batter's box. Trevor called time out, went over to the boy and gave him a pep talk. The young man then stepped into the batter's box, swung at the next pitch and fouled it off – a small achievement, but a big step in his growing confidence to play our national pastime.
- Plouffe Academy (Mass.) volleyball player joins opposing team to ensure all can compete – Heading into the State Tournament weekend, the Plouffe Academy Unified Volleyball of Brockton, Mass., was carrying 13 eligible players, one more than the roster limit, meaning one would need to be chosen to be left behind. Learning this, Plouffe player Cesar Romero selflessly volunteered to leave his team and join their sister team, West Middle School. When Cesar joined the team he once competed against, he soon made many new friends and served as a link between the two teams throughout the tournament weekend. While the Plouffe team was eliminated from the tournament, Cesar served as a key player helping West achieve its gold medal. Both teams were thrilled, West for winning and Plouffe for Cesar's sportsmanship and success.
"As an athlete and a parent, I know personally how important a role youth sports can be in teaching leadership and responsibility to our youth," said Julie Foudy, former Team USA soccer star, two-time Olympic gold medalist and current PCA National Advisory Board Member. "Each of the 'Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments' should serve as a reminder and inspiration to all involved in youth sports of the opportunities we have to create a positive, character-building environment that elevates the game. With so much focus on the negative demonstrations of sportsmanship, it's really time to highlight, applaud and learn from these positive acts that take place as well."
The "Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments" campaign is the latest initiative from Responsible Sports™, a community-based thought leadership program developed by Liberty Mutual, PCA and several national youth sports organizations to spark dialogue about responsibility through sports and to provide resources, tools, tips and advice to youth sports coaches and parents.
"People have the opportunity to do responsible things every day. Liberty Mutual recognizes those actions in both our day-to-day business as well as through the community programs we organize and support," added Greg Gordon, Liberty Mutual senior vice president, Consumer Marketing. "We are delighted so many shining moments that reflect the values and mission of Responsible Sports were nominated and we hope the 'Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments' will help to spotlight and encourage the positive values that sports can instill in our children."
About Responsible Sports
Liberty Mutual founded the Responsible Sports program as a means to celebrate the positive impact that every day, responsible actions can have on our youth. As a responsible insurance company, Liberty Mutual believes that youth sport coaching and youth sport parenting are clear examples of how people can unite to promote the fundamental ideals of community.
Presented in partnership with PCA , the American Softball Association, US Youth Soccer, USA Hockey, USA Wrestling and the American Youth Soccer Organization, Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports is a community-based program providing resources, tools, tips and advice for volunteer youth sport coaches and sport parents. The Responsible Sports program offers parents and coaches constructive tips, expert advice and practical examples to help create a positive sports environment for children. Liberty Mutual also has provided more than $400,000 in grants to youth sports teams, organizations and schools for community participation in the online Responsible Sports curriculum. To access the Responsible Sports resources, see previous Responsible Sports grant winners, and register your league or school for the Responsible Sports grant program, visit www.ResponsibleSports.com.
Teams or organizations representing any youth sport are eligible for a Responsible Sports grant.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance
"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on A.M. Best Company's report of 2010 net written premium. The Group also ranks 82nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2010 revenue. The company has over 45,000 employees located in more than 900 offices throughout the world.
The eighth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual Insurance (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 13,500 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.
About Positive Coaching Alliance
Founded as a non-profit within the Stanford University Athletic Department in 1998, Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is committed to providing all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. To that end, PCA has conducted more than 10,000 live group workshops nationwide for more than 475,000 youth and high school sports coaches, parent, student-athletes and school/organizational leaders. Through workshops and companion online courses, PCA has impacted more than 4 million youth.
PCA's partnership network includes more than 1,700 youth sports organizations, cities and schools. In 2011, PCA will conduct roughly 1,200 live group workshops across the U.S., while assisting tens of thousands of other individuals via online courses at www.PositiveCoach.org.
SOURCE Liberty Mutual Insurance