Lattimore moment leads to SEC Sportsmanship Award

One of the most tragic moments of the 2012 college football season also gave birth to one of the most inspirational stories, earning the South Carolina and Tennessee football teams a share of the SEC Sportsmanship Award for males.

The female award, which was given to Georgia junior tennis student-athlete Maho Kowase, also was announced Monday. The winners will be forwarded for nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship awards, to be announced in July.

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.

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 Georgia 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.”

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