Good Sports Recognized as Top Athletes
Sportsmanship, not the scoreboard, is the focus of this week’s honors, which recognize a moment of Berkshire County unity and a moment of sacrifice from an athlete from outside the county.
Minutes after Wahconah’s football team Saturday captured the Western Massachusetts Division 4 championship, coach Gary Campbell encouraged his team to line up in two rows and form a tunnel to welcome one of the competitors in the D3 title game: Taconic.
That's the same Taconic team who dealt Wahconah its only loss of the season, a painful home loss in Dalton back in October.
After his team did its part, Campbell continued to call out encouragement to individual Taconic players as they warmed up for their game.
“It’s all good,” Campbell said. “It’s all Berkshire County.”
Almost instantly, The Tunnel became one of the most watched and liked videos ever posted on iBerkshires.com’s Facebook page, drawing more than 470 likes by early Sunday evening and comments like this one from the relative of a Taconic football player:
“That is an amazing gesture of incredible sportsmanship! Thank you Waconah football team for your support. Parents and coaches, you should be very proud of your boys.”
The next day in Westfield, runners from Taconic, Wahconah and the rest of Berkshire County’s high school cross country teams competed at the Western Mass Championships at Stanley Park.
Some Berkshire County student athletes went home with individual or team titles.
Few probably saw Ida Santizo of the Springfield High School of Science and Technology cross the finish line. That is because Santizo came in last in a field of more than 100 runners.
There are some things you need to know about the last place finisher in a cross country meet: They don’t get a lot of ink. They do tend to get loud cheers from the spectators left at the finish line. They run the same distance as the kids who come in first.
But Santizo went the extra mile, at least figuratively.
“There was another girl from Agawam who rolled an ankle,” Sci-Tech coach Stephanie Konstantinidis said. “She couldn’t walk, and she was in the woods. So Ida stopped to make sure she got to an official. She brought her to an official and then she continued her race.”
Sci-Tech’s harriers had modest ambitions coming into the sectional meet. With just two girls on the team, they were not going to factor into the team standings. And Santizo, a second-year junior in the program, was looking to break 30 minutes, a mark nowhere near the eventual winning time of 19:00.
The detour to help a fallen competitor led Santizo to finish in 37:23.
“It’s all about beating their individual times,” Konstantinidis said of her athletes. “So to have someone give up a PR or a best time to help someone, you can’t get mad about that.
“That’s the standard we have at Sci-Tech.”
It is a standard that is not uncommon in the sport of cross country, and, indeed, many of the boys and girls on the course Sunday would have done the same thing in that situation. Santizo had the opportunity to put sportsmanship above all else, and she did
As Konstantinidis joked with other members of the Sci-Tech family while waiting for Santizo to finish, “She has the best possible excuse to be late.”
The iBerkshires.com Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Bedard Bros. Auto Sales of Cheshire.