The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced one national winner and eight section winners for the 2014 NFHS Spirit of Sport Award this spring.
The Illinois High School Association’s nominee, Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, was named as the Section 4 winner. Section 4 includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Sacred Heart-Griffin was chosen as the IHSA’s nominee following the school’s actions toward Washington High School in Washington after the town was decimated by a tornado in the days leading up to an IHSA Semifinal Playoff Football game between the two schools.
Sacred Heart-Griffin paid for charter buses for Washington fans and players to make the trip to Springfield and provided the Washington football team with pre-game and post-games meals. The host school also raised more than $75,000 in 50-50- drawings and other fundraisers it turned over to the town of Washington.
“This story encompasses what high school sports are really about,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “The administration, coaches and parents at Sacred Heart-Griffin have said since day one that they ‘didn’t do anything out of the ordinary’ in their actions toward Washington. The truth is, their actions were extraordinary, as they helped a community in need, while providing a transcendent life lesson for their students. We are proud to have them represent the IHSA and high school sports as a whole.”
SHG coach Ken Leonard said the media made a big deal about what they were doing, because they were just doing what they thought was right.
“In the Midwest, in Illinois, in central Illinois, this is how we were brought up. When someone needs help, everyone does what they can to help,” he said.
The NFHS will produce a retrospective video highlighting Sacred Heart-Griffin’s actions that will debut at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Boston this month.
For more on Sacred Heart-Griffin High School’s nomination for the NFHS award by the IHSA, visit ihsa.org.