Luke Schlueter, Zachary Boatman and Natalie Williams are the recipients of the St. Louis Sports Commission Associates’ 2012 Sportsmanship Scholarships. Schlueter, a 2012 graduate of Parkway West High School and incoming student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive a $5,000 award to apply to higher education expenses.
Boatman and Williams will each receive $1,250 scholarship awards. Boatman graduated from St. Louis University High School and will attend the University of Arkansas. Williams graduated from Parkway South High School and is enrolled at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. Photos of the scholarship recipients are available at http://www.stlsports.org/pressbox/2012-Sportsmanship-Scholarship-Recipients.php.
The Sportsmanship Scholarship is presented annually to graduating high school students from the St. Louis metro area who demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship in athletic competition. The scholarship recognizes individuals who exemplify honesty, integrity, civility, selflessness, kindness, compassion and class. It is unique in that candidates are evaluated strictly on their approach, character and respect for others in competition. Athletic performance (wins and other stats) is not a factor in the selection.
Created by the Sports Commission Associates, the organization’s young professionals group, the scholarship is part of the Sports Commission’s ongoing Sportsmanship Initiative and efforts to promote and encourage sportsmanship in the community. The Associates raise funds for the scholarship and select its recipients. In four years, the group has awarded $20,000 in academic scholarships to nine college-bound students. This year, the Associates received a record 76 nominations. From those, the 2012 scholarship recipients were chosen:
A four-time state championship qualifier, Schlueter captained the Parkway West varsity swim team during his senior year. He was admired and viewed as a role model by his teammates and coaches – and his opponents. Parkway West coach Allison Zeller said there were multiple meets where other teams would be chanting, “Schlueter, Schlueter!” She said when she asked another coach why they were chanting his name, the response was that his competitors really like Luke and respect him as a swimmer and person. Schlueter always socialized with other swimmers. After every race, he would humbly shake hands with his opponents before exiting the pool. At this year’s state meet, he placed third in the 100-Fly and broke a long-standing school record. True to his character, he immediately turned to his competitors to congratulate them on their accomplishments before he left the pool to accept his medal. Schlueter’s selflessness has long been evident. At age 13, as a member of the Creve Coeur Racquet Club swim team, he was due to receive the squad’s high point trophy. On the night of the team’s awards banquet, he privately asked his coach to award the trophy to the swimmer with the next highest point total since he had been the recipient the previous year. Schlueter never told anyone except his parents about the conversation, and no one clapped louder for the swimmer who accepted the trophy.
Boatman played four years for the St. Louis University High School volleyball program. Those at SLUH say he is a shining example of sportsmanship: He is an honest competitor, selfless teammate and a gracious individual. His coach, James Gioia, noted that Boatman would help the officials with calls that pertained to plays he made. Gioia said, “It is evident from watching Zach that he never seeks to gain an edge in any dishonest or unsportsmanlike way. He competes purely and honestly.” Gioia added that Boatman was gracious in both victory and defeat. He celebrated with teammates and not in the face of his opponents. When SLUH lost, Boatman genuinely congratulated his opponents and displayed tremendous respect. A defining example occurred in the state volleyball championship. SLUH lost a hard-fought match to Francis Howell Central. After receiving their medals, Boatman implored his teammates to stay on the court at the net and applaud each Francis Howell athlete during the medal ceremony. The following week, SLUH Athletic Director Dick Wehner received a note from his counterpart at Francis Howell stating that the school’s fans, coaches and players appreciated the act of sportsmanship and felt Boatman’s actions were first class.
A multi-sport athlete at Parkway South (basketball, cross country and soccer) – not to mention newspaper sports editor – Williams is a fierce competitor. But throughout high school, she learned that respecting others, including her rivals, was more rewarding than winning a game. In February, the Parkway South girls basketball team was set to play rival Lafayette in a game that would determine the conference title. The game was scheduled for 7 p.m., but Lafayette mistakenly thought tipoff was at 5:30 p.m. Williams discovered the error and left the pregame shoot-around to try to help the Lafayette players so they wouldn’t sit around for three hours. Parkway South coach Thomas Williams said, “Natalie wanted nothing more than to win that game, but she wanted to win the right way.” As a member of Parkway South’s varsity cross country team, she selflessly filled a spot this year until younger runners were ready to step up at the end of the season. Coach Sandra Guymon said, “Not only did Natalie never question this role, she set an excellent example for the freshmen and sophomores.” In her nomination essay, Williams recounted a story of how she became friends with a Lafayette cross country runner she was “supposed” to dislike. During her sophomore year, Williams engaged her opponent in conversation at an awards ceremony. Finding the competitor to be a nice person, Williams realized the schools’ rivalry shouldn’t get in the way. From that point forward, they cheered each other on and helped one another get through every race. The camaraderie she instilled among her teammates, opponents and herself underscored her remarkable maturity. Thomas Williams, the Parkway South basketball coach, said, “Natalie has set the standard for what all future Lady Patriots will be measured by on the court and in the classroom.”
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The Sports Commission Associates participate in a variety of activities that support the Sports Commission’s mission to make St. Louis a better place to live, visit, work and play through sports. The Sportsmanship Scholarship is one of the group’s primary volunteer initiatives. On Saturday, Aug. 25, the Associates will host their third annual Trivia Night to raise funds for the scholarship. The Trivia Night will take place at Temple Israel in Creve Coeur. To register a team or obtain more information, visitwww.stlsports.org/associates or call 314-345-5101. Information on the 2013 Sportsmanship Scholarship will be available next winter.