Friday, 05 February 2010 00:00
In recent years, the Sachem Cherokees set the gold standard for sportsmanship among girls soccer teams as the Cherokees won seven LIJSL Sportsmanship Awards. They were coached by Leon Chetuck, who is now coaching the Sachem Eagles, competing in Boys-Under-19, Division 1.
A new millennium and now a new decade has produced another girls team known for its sporting play. The Massapequa Lil Spirit have won four consecutive LIJSL Sportsmanship Awards and also received three silver chevrons and one bronze chevron. The Lil Spirit is not so Lil anymore as they are now Girls-Under-16, Division 2 and are in their seventh year of LIJSL play. Nice girls finish first as they have won three LIJSL division titles and have been crowned tournament champions in East Meadow, Cape May and in the Lehigh Valley.
“I always remind the girls to uphold the integrity of the game by respecting their teammates, opponents and the game itself,” said Eric Deaton, coach of the Lil Spirit. “I tell them the only time you look down on someone is when you are leaning over to pick them up. I tell them just play the game and play hard.”
After each game, the match referee rates each team on the conduct of the coach, players and spectators plus overall game conduct and player appearance. Each division of generally 8-10 teams produces one sportsmanship winner per season. Teams who do not receive the highest number of points per division but reach a certain high point total can receive a chevron. LIJSL teams are very proud to wear sportsmanship patches and chevrons on their uniforms. The LIJSL Sportsmanship Program is sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods.
“Whenever we are leaving from a practice, scrimmage or a game, whether we win, lose or draw, we all huddle up, hands in and in a low, low chant we all say ‘1-2-3 Team,’” Coach Deaton added. “We play from the heart and we play as one. I could go on and on but in the end, the girls truly bring that belief with them out on the pitch.”