BURLINGTON, Vt. -- University of Hartford tennis student-athlete Rich Lieberman (East Haddam, Conn.) and University of Maine’s softball team have been named the America East 2009 Male and Female Sportsmanship Award winners the league announced this evening during a dinner at Pulcinella’s Ristorante as part of its annual meeting. Lieberman and the Maine softball program are now automatically eligible for the NCAA Male and Female Sportsmanship Awards to be determined by the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct in July.
To be nominated, an individual or team must have demonstrated consistently the values of caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility in his or her daily participation in intercollegiate athletics. The student-athlete or team nominees must be a member of an intercollegiate athletics team during the 2008-09 academic year.
Lieberman, a graduate student at Harford, received the Sportsmanship Award at the Connecticut Division I State Championships in October for his on-court demeanor and poise displayed throughout the tournament. The Hawks’ wins leader this season, Lieberman picked up the lone singles victory for his team during the weekend, a straight-set decision over Fairfield. But it was through the respect he bestowed his opponents and the honor he showed the game that earned Lieberman recognition.
A transfer from Assumption College where he was a Division II All-American and graduated magna cum laude, Lieberman also was presented one of three Sportsmanship Awards at Hartford’s end of year banquet. The award recognizes any individual team, player or coach, while participating in intercollegiate athletics during the past year, where any of the values of caring, civility, fairness, honesty, integrity and responsibility were demonstrated.
The Black Bear softball team defined class and integrity when they traveled to Vermont on the final weekend of the regular season. The series was the final one for the Catamount program, which was being cut for budgetary reasons. Despite being consumed with their own immediate future, Maine, which remained alive for a postseason berth heading into the crucial series, understood the importance of the moment and did not let an opportunity to make a difference pass.
Maine made t-shirts for their counterparts that read “Maine vs. Vermont, Until We Meet Again” commemorating the rivalry and friendships that had formed over 75 all-time meetings. Senior Ashley Waters took part in a farewell ceremony before Sunday’s contest, thanking Vermont and offering support for her peers. The gesture did not go unnoticed, garnering thank you e-mails from Vermont parents.
America East began awarding a conference Sportsmanship Award to a male and female student-athlete for the 2005-06 academic year based on the same principles and criteria as the NCAA Sportsmanship Awards. Last year’s female recipient, Hartford’s Latasha Jarrett, was also named the NCAA’s Division I Sportswoman of the Year.
All-Time America East Sportsmanship Award Winners
2009 Rich Lieberman, Hartford Softball Team, Maine
2008 Cavell Johnson, UMBC Latasha Jarrett, Hartford
2007 Ross Lohr, Boston U. Kristin Drabyn, UMBC
2006 Chris Spivey, Hartford Rachel Laws, Binghamton