In last October's GISA boys soccer state tournament game at Mount De Sales Academy, Augusta Prep and the home team battled to a 1-0 Mount De Sales win. The game, a state quarterfinals match, saw little trash talking and virtually no unsportsmanlike play.
Augusta Prep soccer coach Forrest Wimberly was amazed.
"It was the most intense and best game I've had the privilege of being a part of," Wimberly said. "There were only eight fouls called the entire game. It was all about soccer and not about all the typical antics we see too often in the high school game."
After watching a season full of foul language, cheap shots and unsportsmanlike behavior from opponents, Wimberly saw how high school soccer should be played. He put his frustrations to action and only a few days after the state quarterfinals game, Wimberly created the GISA Fair Play Award.
The award, designed to encourage sportsmanship in the Georgia Independent Schools Association, was approved by a 32-0 vote from the coaches less than a week later.
In January, the GISA athletic directors approved of the award, and it was introduced during Augusta Prep's Fair Play Day in a ceremony before Tuesday's soccer game.
The award, split up into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, will be presented at the end of the season to teams based on the number of red cards and yellow cards they received.
To earn the Gold Level Award, a team must receive no red cards and no yellow cards during the entire season.
No red cards and 1-4 yellow cards will earn a Silver Level Award.
No red cards and 5-8 yellow cards is good for a Bronze Level Award.
Augusta Prep senior team captain Monica Ploetzke said the emphasis on sportsmanship is long overdue.
"Sometimes you get teams that are so competitive that they forget about playing the game," she said. "At this level, players should be able to control their actions."
Ploetzke said in her time at Augusta Prep, the team hasn't had a red card.
"The actual award means absolutely nothing. It's a piece of paper," Wimberly said. "What it stands for is worth its weight in gold."
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