By DAVID COOKE
Blytheville Schools PR Director
Beginning with football, which commences for the Blytheville Chickasaws on Sept. 2, the school is now gearing up in athletics for the 2016-17 school year. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Activities Association has honored the entire Blytheville High School with its Sportsmanship Award for the 2015-16 year.
The letter, addressed to Supt. Richard Atwill from AAA assistant executive director Annette Savage, “recognizes superior sportsmanship and citizenship displayed by your students, players, coaches and community” during the last year. “Your high school is to be commended for its commitment to sportsmanlike conduct and for discouraging behavior not conducive to a sportsmanlike environment,” she said.
The school’s sportsmanship award is the fifth for BHS in the last 22 years. BHS earned AAAA sportsmanship awards in 1994-95, ’96-97 and ’97-98, and AAAAA honors in 1999-2000.
While the conduct of the Chickasaw and Lady Chickasaw players and coaches is one of the areas considered for the award, athletics director David Hixson emphasized that receiving the honor means much, more to the school. To be considered for the award in its class, a school must be voted on as the best in terms of sportsmanship in its conference. BHS received the most votes of any AAAAA-East school. During voting, school officials cannot vote for their own school. That in itself, Hixson added, is a very positive reflection on what the schools in Blytheville’s own conference think about BHS. He was told later by an AAA leader that Blytheville received all seven votes from opposing athletic directors for the conference honor.
The AAA staff chooses the state Sportsmanship award winner from the conference winners in each class. In addition to Blytheville, other state winners in 2015-16 were Mount St. Mary of AAAAAAA, Alma of AAAAAA, Batesville Southside of AAAA, Rivercrest of AAA, Maumelle Charter of AA and Sacred Heart of Class A.
Hixson pointed out that the state award is the result of dedicated work for BHS by many individuals. “Every person associated with sports in Blytheville tries to represent our school in the best possible light,” he stated. “For example, someone from the BHS administration is at every single home game. Our school employees are assigned to different aspects of a game, but the result is that the officials and the other team’s coaches receive everything prior to a game that they ask for.
“The gate-workers are excellent at giving directions once the team’s bus gets to Blytheville; they will tell the bus drivers and coaches the best ways to get to the field or gym, and take care of whatever needs they might have at the moment. The student body, BHS Band and cheerleaders are very supportive of our teams, and the community of fans is superb about supporting the BHS players while showing respect to the opposing players.”
For the award, Blytheville High School receives a plaque and a large banner.
Atwill and principal Bobby Ashley accepted the Sportsmanship award on behalf of the school during the AAA’s annual meeting at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Aug. 3.
“I’ve been a part of a few state championships as both an assistant and head coach of the Chickasaws,” Hixson added. “And while a state championship is very good for the team and the school, a Sportsmanship award is a direct reflection of what a school does over the course of an entire school year. Everybody, whether that person is a player, coach, administrator or general fan, plays a big part in the school earning this award.
“It has always been a personal goal of mine to be certain that the officials are fed before the game and have everything they want, and so many of those officials will tell me later that working games in Blytheville is one of the highlights of their careers in athletics.”