Each year, the DIAA offers the Dale Farmer State Champions in Sportsmanship program, an annual statewide competition in sportsmanship. Schools in the state are graded on ten different standards, including the school’s commitment to community and education.
The award is named in honor of Dale Farmer, the first Executive Director of the Delaware Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Mr. Farmer was also honored with the DIAA Lifetime Achievement Award back in 2016.
Overall, 17 schools were named State Champions in Sportsmanship for the 2017-2018 school year.
“These schools truly embrace the philosophy of education-based athletics and demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship by their behavior and actions,” said DIAA Sportsmanship Committee Chair Heath Chasanov in a DIAA press release. “We commend the Sportsmanship Committee of these schools that are constantly promoting the value of sportsmanship and supporting the mission of DIAA.”
Woodbridge High School was among the 17 schools to earn the award, winning it for the second time.
Other schools receiving the award were, Brandywine High School, Caravel Academy, Caesar Rodney High School, Charter School of Wilmington, Concord High School, Conrad School of Science, Lake Forest High School, McKean High School, Middletown High School, Mt. Pleasant High School, Newark Charter, Sanford School, Sussex Tech High School, Tatnall School, William Penn High School and Springer Middle School.
Schools are judged on much more than handshakes after each game. The process lasts the entire year and each school must provide a detailed report at the end of the school year which is then reviewed by the DIAA.
Each school must provide a written board of education policy on sportsmanship, have a committee which plans and coordinates a sportsmanship program, hold annual evaluations of coaches, create a campaign which promotes sportsmanship as well as creating procedures to investigate and resolve complaints dealing with sportsmanship.
The program is already yielding results, at Middletown for example where they’ve seen tangible results.
“This year through the regular season, we accumulated at most, one caution for unsportsmanlike behavior, which is pretty amazing for high school competitive players,” said Middletown soccer coach Brian Derrickson. “On the boys side, after the 2016 season, we were coming off a season which saw us accumulate 24 cards in 2015 - I was tasked with creating an improvement plan which consists of both players and parents completing sportsmanship courses online from NFHS and NSCAA. As a result, we were given a commendation as we reduced our card total to 12 in a very competitive schedule.”
In total, 34 schools throughout the state have received the award at least once in the 22 year history of the award.