The 2016 Lady Whalers soccer team recently received the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Sportsmanship Award for their league. Even though the team was practically brand new in terms of players and coaches, the girls always maintained a good attitude. The MIAA Sportsmanship Award is voted for by other teams in each league as to who they felt was the team with the best attitude on and off the field. Although girls soccer weathered some losses, they still kept their temper with other teams and always showed respect even when it was not returned. They also kept their humility when it came to their wins. When playing teams of weaker skill, the girls did not brag and always congratulated them no matter the score.
Captain Emily Ballinger, a four year varsity member and long time player with the majority of the girls on the team, said she was not shocked at her team's accomplishment. “Through all the years we have been playing, we have all formed a special bond that helps us work together on the field and keeps us connected… Some athletes on other teams often get overly involved and begin to get confrontational but I have never noticed our girls purposely going after another player.”
Ballinger had a large impact to the success of the team but sadly will be graduating this year. Luckily, many young freshman players like Rosha Kelly, Haleigh Johnson, and Luly Day are bringing a new style to the field.
Kelly, a newer varsity Whaler, was also unsurprised at the reception of the award. “Everyone on the team has good energy and are always friendly. I think the team all loves good competition, but never lack good sportsmanship,” said the freshman. Kelly and many other freshmen have been greatly influenced by not only the captains, but also by the numerous upperclassmen, who have shown excellent examples of respect and sportsmanship, causing the soccer program to flourish and develop into the organization that earned the sportsmanship award.
One of the most impactful things girls soccer does is create a ‘soccer sister’ system between upperclassmen and lower classmen. On special games, the team would get bags for their ‘sister’ to get them pumped up for the game, but that is not it’s only purpose. These upperclassmen sisters are there to help make the younger girls feel more comfortable and show them how to act as a whaler. Malcolm has been on the team since freshman year, always giving it her all with a good attitude, stating, “I want to make sure the younger kids on the team understand the responsibilities our team has and it’s legacy. I’m proud to be a Whaler and even on the coldest, rainiest days and toughest games, it’s important they see that pride and all the hardwork transcend to that.”
Malcolm also believes she wouldn’t have had such a great experience if it wasn’t for her fellow seniors: Ballinger, Grace Bartlett, Victoria Wilson, and Blake Lazarus, commenting that she believes these girls brought her to where she is now and they always make her comfortable on and off the field.
So why did the Lady Whalers Soccer team get the MIAA Sportsmanship Award? They got it because they are a team who works together and makes sure everyone is having a good time. They know what it is like to lose and win and the pressures that come along with it. These ladies know how to kick some serious gluteus maximus with respect and a good attitude. Way to go Lady Whaler’s Soccer and we can’t wait to see some more of that competitive friendliness on the field!