In his first year of playing football, eight year old Bradley Graff displayed such great sportsmanship that he will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Maryland General Assembly on February 15. Bradley will be joined by soccer coach Shannon Smith, who will be recognized as Queen Anne’s County’s Coach of the Year.
Each year, the Mid-Atlantic Recreation and Sports Alliance hosts an annual Sportsmanship Awards ceremony during the General Assembly at the Maryland State House in Annapolis. The Alliance is a consortium of recreation and parks departments and youth sports associations in the Mid-Atlantic region. The mission of this Alliance is to develop and communicate a consistent message that sports organizations as well as their players, coaches, and spectators will be held to a code of conduct that promotes sportsmanship and keeps recreational competitive and non-competitive sporting activities in proper perspective.
This year the Queen Anne’s County Sportsmanship Award for Youth Player goes to Bradley Graff of Stevensville, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Piranhas football team. He was nominated for this award by his coach Jeffrey Eckhardt. “Bradley was the type of teammate that everyone wants; he pushed the other players to try their hardest and yet was compassionate when a player failed,” Eckhardt wrote in his nomination letter. “Brad is a self-appointed leader that everyone naturally follows, he has a way of making others want to do better. When Brad would commit a penalty he would hold himself accountable and would do everything possible not to make the same mistake twice. Brad always treated every coach and official he encountered with the upmost respect. He has the type of attitude that wills teams to win when they are probably outmatched talent wise.”
This year’s Queen Anne’s County Sportsmanship Award for Coach goes to soccer coach Shannon Smith of Queenstown. “Coach Shannon always displays a high degree of integrity, responsibility, leadership and patience. He impresses all with his energy and excitement for teaching and his passion for soccer. He teaches his players teamwork, to respect officials, ethics, and sportsmanship. Coach Shannon takes the time to kneel down to the players’ height as he talks to each player about the game. The kids love the attention and learn so much by listening to him. He is an incredible asset to Kent Island Youth Soccer League and an excellent role model for all players and coaches,” wrote Dave and Cecily Palace in their nomination letter. Shannon Smith was also nominated for this award by Julie and Lindsay Dixon of Queenstown, who wrote, “Whether he has an undefeated championship team like he had this year or a team with a losing record, his coaching style remains the same – full of passion! He brings out the best in players by treating them with respect.”
The presentation of these awards is co-sponsored by the Mid Atlantic Sports Alliance and the Speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates, Mike Busch. The ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. with a reception in the Lowe House Office Building in Room #170, immediately followed by the ceremonies in the House of Delegates Chamber. Delegates from the award winners’ counties will be on hand to assist with the presentations. The event is open to the public.
To nominate a coach or player for next years’ award, call Curtis at Queen Anne’s County Parks and Recreation at 410-758-0835 ext. 2516 or go to www.PARKSnREC.org.