by Benny Benton
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Three Barton College sports programs – baseball, women’s golf and women’s tennis – have been honored with a Conference Carolinas Spring Team Sportsmanship Award, which is presented annually to the team in each sport judged to have exhibited the highest degree of sportsmanship among players, coaches and fans during the regular season.
A student-athlete and coach at each institution judge the sportsmanship of each conference competitor, and an average of all the institutions' scores is used to determine the award winner in each sport. The award is also known as the “Mini-Messick” due to its ties to the league’s overall sportsmanship honor, the Messick Award.
“I am so proud of our women’s tennis, women’s golf and baseball teams for winning spring Messick sportsmanship awards,” said Todd Wilkinson, Barton’s director of athletics. “I firmly believe in practicing excellent sportsmanship at all times, and the character traits associated with individuals of this nature will truly develop leaders of distinction on the Barton campus and society as a whole. Congratulations are in order for coaches Matt Rowe, Ashley Leonard and Josh Simmons for providing the quality leadership and mentoring of their student-athletes. Being recognized by the peer institutions within Conference Carolinas for each of these teams is a great honor.”
Baseball is receiving the honor for the second time, having also collected the award the first time it was handed out in 2010-11. The Bulldogs were led by Simmons, assistant coach Dillon Rudio and volunteer assistant Jeff Flowers.
"I am extremely proud of our program winning the Messick Award,” Simmons said. “For other coaches to take notice of how our team plays, carries themselves and represents the college in a positive manner means a lot. Anytime your peers honor you with an award it means more."
Women’s tennis is also being recognized for the second time in the six-year history of the award, having last been honored following the 2012-13 season. The Lady Bulldogs were directed by Rowe along with volunteer assistants Will Cobb and Max Leppert.
“I am reminded of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem ‘If’,” Rowe said. “The section which says ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same ...’. I was very proud of my team's ability to stay positive and play with class and sportsmanship throughout a challenging season. We are looking forward to next season.”
The women’s golf program, which just completed its fifth season, is being presented its first sportsmanship award. The Lady Bulldogs were guided by Leonard, assistant coach Daniel Claytor and volunteer assistant Jim Boykin.
“To win this award is a huge testament to how our players and coaches conduct themselves on the golf course,” Leonard said. “To win an award of this magnitude shows the impression our student-athletes have made throughout our conference. As a program we are honored for this recognition and will continue to conduct ourselves in a manner that Barton College will be proud of.”
The three spring awards come on the heels of one gained in the fall by the men’s cross country program. The total of four collected by Barton during the 2015-16 year was second-most in the league, and equaled the school’s total number earned over the previous five years of the award.