Without question one of my favorite events of the year is the Shore Conference Sportsmanship Awards breakfast which was held Sunday at the RWJBarnabas Health Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North.

The event honors a male and female senior from each high school in the Shore Conference who has been chosen for understanding the true meaning of sportsmanship.  What makes it so special is it brings together such a diverse group representing just about every sport.

Many of those honored were ones who competed in relative obscurity outside of their own team or school but they all possess the traits of leadership, teamwork, fair play and respect for the sports they play. A total of 96 student-athletes were selected for an award that the Athletic Directors themselves consider the most prestigious they will hand out because those honored represent the very best in what high school sports is all about.

The honorees along with their families and in many cases coaches came together yesterday morning for the breakfast event and once again I had the pleasure to serve as the Master of Ceremonies.  Each of those in attendance came on stage to accept their award along with representatives from their athletic department and 12 of them got more than a plaque and sweatshirt.

As they have for the past four years the Pine Belt Family of Dealerships provided $4000 in scholarships with eight of the student-athletes each receiving $500 through a random drawing conducted by Rob Sickel and Jack Boylan from the auto group.  This year the Shore Conference jumped in and added another $2000 to four of the sportsmanship winners with a total of $6000 awarded to help with college expenses.

There were several special awards handed out with Rich Carroll of the Middletown Township High School District and Will Sundermann of Pinelands Regional honored as the Monmouth and Ocean County Athletic Directors of the Year as chosen by their peers.  In addition former Manasquan AD Ron Kornegay received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Middletown South Athletic Trainer Stacey White was saluted with the Professional Service Award.

Our Shore Sports Network was proud to once again partner with the Shore Conference on such a worthwhile program and special thanks to the Toms River Regional Schools, District Athletic Director Ted Gillen and Toms River North Athletic Coordinator Paul “Barno” Barnoski for hosting more than 360 athletes, family members, coaches and other guests.  We would also like to thank Partnership Fundraising for serving as our sponsor of this great program.