A remarkable show of sportsmanship by the Wolcott Tech Volleyball team is recognized. From the LCS Magazine.
Sometimes the honesty and character of a person becomes evident in the smallest of acts.
When the Wolcott Tech boys’ volleyball team seemingly beat Norwich Free Academy last season in a game it desperately needed to keep its faint hopes of a CIAC playoff berth intact, one of the team’s players, Cedar Sobek, came face to face with his honesty and character. The apparent final hit of the game by NFA had been ruled to have landed out of bounds, giving Wolcott Tech the point and the win in the final game of the match. Sobek, and only Sobek, knew this wasn’t the case
While teams began to walk off the court and line up to shake hands, Sobek made a motion with his hands that meant he had touched the ball ever so slightly, thus giving the point to NFA. Sobek’s touch was undetected by officials, coaches and other players. But Sobek knew what he had to do; he reported the touch to coaches and officials. Norwich Free Academy was given the point and the game was re-started, with NFA going on to win the game and match.
“There was never any doubt what I had to do,” said Sobek, as he sat with his coach, Ray Tanguay, and several of his senior teammates. “We shouldn’t get what we don’t deserve.”
His teammates could have been upset with Sobek, thinking only of the apparent win that turned into a crushing loss. But that’s not the way Tech volleyball players are taught to play the game. “We supported Cedar 100 percent, I give all the credit to him,” said Hunter Folland. “It shows character that carries on after we stop playing volleyball.” Offered Hunter Miket, “We want to win but not by cheating. We always try our best to be good sports.”
The incident might have ended then and there, with a Wolcott Tech loss and a bus ride home. But Sobek’s act of honesty was reported, one official calling it “the most impressive thing he had seen in 30 years of officiating,” said Tanguay, who has been athletic director at tech for 16 years. Wolcott Tech may not have won the game but an honor even more significant than a victory on the court was to come the team’s way when it was awarded one of only two Connecticut Association of Athletic Director’s (CAAD) awards given out annually for “the most sportsmanship act” of the high school sports seasons. that’s all of the sports seasons.
“When you think that there are around 60,000 sporting events played by Connecticut high schools each year it is really amazing to win this award,” said Tanguay. “Cedar did the right thing and it was a life lesson for our entire team. We stress sportsmanship and having fun. Of course, we want to win but not at any cost. The kids all buy into our approach and the award is an indication of their character and sportsmanship.”
Offered Wolcott Tech Principal, Richard Spellman, “Ray and his staff (assistant coach Jim Pepper) place an emphasis on sportsmanship. I received a phone call from a woman, and she was weeping when she talked about Cedar’s actions. I give a lot of the credit to Ray. He has been the person who has built the volleyball program the right way.”
As if the CAAD award wasn’t recognition enough of the Tech athletes’ character and sportsmanship, for the second consecutive year the school was awarded Michaels Cup.
The Michaels Achievement Cup program was created in the early 1980s as the brainchild of Roy Michaels, the owner of Michaels Jewelry, in an effort to recognize outstanding athletic programs. The program has recognized yearly winners since that time, and then in 2008 transitioned directly to CIAC administration of the program. Schools are selected by the Michaels Cup Committee for their efforts in launching and implementing the CIAC Class Act Schools sportsmanship program. The Class Act School program was launched at the 2016 Sportsmanship Conference and was designed to empower schools and specifically students to enhance sportsmanship. This is the second year the Michaels Achievement Cup exemplary program has been tied directly to the Class Act sportsmanship program, with 14 schools earning the honor last season. As of this release, 107 schools have elected to participate in the voluntary Class Act Schools program.
Tech’s athletes also take pride in their community outreach efforts.
“We enjoy playing sports,” said Chris Speaker,” but we all like helping out in the community and volunteering our time. We have sports and school that take up a lot of our time. But by volunteering we are doing something worthwhile with what spare time we do have.”
“What is most impressive is that, unlike some schools, there is no demand that the kids here participate in community outreach,” said Tanguay. “But our kids do so many things, like helping out with PAL volleyball, volunteering at school events such as Breakfast with Santa and the Thanksgiving dinner, the Rod Dixon Kids Marathon, a senior citizen prom, and the Christmas Village parade.” The aforementioned Sobek journeys to Montana each summer as part of a church youth group to volunteer his time teaching inner city children how to white water boat. A recent graduate of the Tech volleyball team, Angel Lopez, spent time in South Africa helping to rebuild a school.
“These kids spend a lot of time working in the community,” said Tanguay. “It’s all about having a social responsibility.”
Said Sobek, “Our friends see what we are doing, and it encourages them to get involved.” And Miket added, “We have sports, school and some of us work after school, but we can always find time to give back to the community. It also helps build a great team chemistry that carries over to the court.”
The Wolcott Tech boys’ volleyball team has enjoyed success on the court, even though they have endured losing seasons the last few years. But off the court, they are always winners, each and every day.