BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – University of Georgia junior tennis student-athlete Maho Kowase and the University of South Carolina and University of Tennessee football teams are recipients of the 6th annual SEC Sportsmanship Award, the conference office announced Monday. The winners will be forwarded for nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship awards, to be announced in July.
The two were chosen by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics. Kowase is the recipient of the female award while South Carolina and Tennessee received the male honor.
“Sportsmanship, civility and societal responsibility are things that will lead to victories throughout the course of life,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “I congratulate Maho and the University of South Carolina and University of Tennessee football teams for this prestigious honor, and for being committed to athletic excellence and overall excellence.”
At the 2012 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships, the UG team match came down to Kowase’s individual match where she was trailing in the final set. An official made an incorrect score call that favored Kowase. Upon hearing the official's report, the junior came forward and agreed with her opponent on the correct score.
The Kashiwa, Japan native kept her poise to go on to win the match, pushing her team into the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. While her match score was still good enough to win the competition, her integrity prevailed. According to the nomination form, “Every moment Maho is on the court, she competes like a champion and shows respect for all opponents. After matches, win or lose, you can usually find Maho talking to her opponent, and usually smiling throughout the conversation.”
On Oct. 27, 2012, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a severe knee injury in the second quarter against Tennessee, the second of his career. While it is customary for the teammates on the field at the time of an injury to gather around, South Carolina’s entire sideline encircled its fallen player. It did not take long for Tennessee’s team to follow suit.
Despite being engaged in a heated conference game, both teams set aside their battle to show support for a football player, regardless of which uniform he wore. The act displayed both great sportsmanship by the teams gathered as one support unit as well as the impact that Lattimore had on his sport.
Below is a list of SEC Sportsmanship recipients:
2013 – University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina Football Teams, Maho Kowase, Georgia (Tennis)
2012 – Matt Walters, Arkansas (Tennis); Joanna Mather, Florida (Tennis); Laura Eddy, Georgia (Soccer)
2011 – Louis Day, South Carolina (Track & Field); Ole Miss Softball Team
2010 – Rodney Scott, Ole Miss (Football); Sam Arbaugh, South Carolina (Softball)
2009 – Dorian Ulrey, Arkansas (Track & Field); Alabama Women’s Tennis Team
2008 – Chris Lofton, Tennessee (Basketball); Jessica Yadloczky, Florida (Golf)