With the season winding down - and the playoffs on the horizon - the Cottage Grove boys soccer team may have a potential cherry to put on top of an already successful year.
Head coach Vern Stewart was informed last week by the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) that his team had been nominated for the OSAA’s annual Sportsmanship Award.
According to an email from the OSAA’s Associate Director Kelly Foster, the award is part of a “recognition program that gives OSAA sport officials the opportunity to highlight the positive sportsmanship that they see on the field.”
While the email says that the nomination came specifically from a “recent match … where the varsity boys soccer program exhibited the great qualities that the OSAA looks for in teams, programs and communities,” Stewart believes his team exhibited those qualities throughout the 2019 season.
“It’s hard for me to pinpoint [what spurred the nomination] because my guys always have sportsmanship in mind,” Stewart said. “That’s one of our biggest things that we work on as a team is to make sure that simple things get done, like picking up your opponent if he gets knocked down. If somebody’s hurt, you kick the ball out.
“You do the kinds of things that go beyond the game and beyond just playing because, after all, we’re all just humans and sportsmanship is something that’s kind of lacking in the world, as far as I’m concerned.”
Before the season began, in an interview with the Sentinel, Lions team captain and senior defensive stalwart Fernando Soto-Cruz said his goal for the season was, win or lose, he wanted their opponents to “remember Cottage Grove.” While an extra win may have been picked up here and there throughout the season, nomination for an award like this is proof that the Lions will be remembered by more than just their opponents in 2019.
Victories, goals and championships are always desired, but no matter how this season finishes for Cottage Grove, they’ve made their community proud along the way.
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts. And I know that’s kind of cliche, but it’s true,” Stewart said.