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First Alachua County school to receive the honor

W -  Carswell - Hawthorne Middle High School award 02Hawthorne Middle High School athletic director Bobby Hill and principal Veita Carter hold the Lee Scruggs Memorial All Sports Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. It is the first school in Alachua County to receive the award.

HAWTHORNE – The Mid-Florida Officials’ Association awarded Hawthorne Middle High School with the Lee Scruggs Memorial All Sports Outstanding Sportsmanship Award for the 2012-2013 school year.

The award, established in 2005, recognizes the school administration, coaches, athletes and fans for outstanding sportsmanship and contribution to interscholastic sports and game administration.

Al Summers, president of the association, said they regulate about 70 schools from counties across the state and Hawthorne Middle High School was the first school in Alachua County to receive the award at a banquet earlier this month.

The schools are required to follow Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines, such as greeting officials upon their arrival and providing them with private parking and a secure dressing facility. Hawthorne Middle High School surpassed those expectations.

“We recognize schools who go above and beyond those things, and there are very few schools who go above and beyond,” Summers said. “We’re very proud of them.”

Summers recalled the first few times he visited the school many years ago.

“The conditions were not conducive,” he said. “Now when you go there, you can actually dress in a fresh, clean environment. We pride ourselves on going there.”

He said the fairly new principal and athletic director were instrumental in improving the school’s program.

“It’s been a 360 turnaround from what we’ve been used to,” Summers said.

Athletic director Bobby Hill said he felt “complete jubilation” upon receiving the award.

“In our facilities, everything is treated as first class,” he said.

He said they did all of the hospitality they were supposed to do and made sure the officials felt comfortable.

“Even fans from opposing teams feel like they’re appreciated,” he said. “This award says we’re headed in the right direction.”

With a small athletic program of about 80 students, Hill said it was a challenge, but he said the coaches did a great job of implementing discipline.

“I give the students a lot of credit,” he said. “They don’t get a lot of time to rest.”

Hawthorne Middle High School principal Veita Carter said it was a big deal being honored for sportsmanship in all sports, considering the school’s size.

We didn’t have a winning season in football, but the kids still persevered and stayed positive, and that’s what this award is all about.”

The school was given a large plaque to keep for a year. It’s engraved with the names of each Lee Scruggs’ winner.

It hangs next to a smaller plaque on a wall in the school’s office-- a constant reminder of the school’s accomplishment.

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