EPHS Football Receives IHSA Award for Exemplary Sportsmanship

IHSA certificate for outstanding sportsmanship, awarded to Athletic Director Douglas Noyes and Head Football Coach Dylan Mack

The IHSA's "Sport a Winning Attitude" award was given to Athletic Director Doug Noyes and Head Coach Dylan Mack in recognition of the good sportsmanship that the Elmwood Park varsity football team displayed during its Sept. 28 victory over Westmont High.

The Elmwood Park High School varsity football team has been recognized for outstanding sportsmanship by the Illinois High School Association.

The EPHS staff and team were commended for the exemplary conduct they displayed during the Tigers’ 13-0 Homecoming victory over Westmont High School on Sept. 28.

After that game, the officiating crew submitted a report to the IHSA praising the professionalism of Athletic Director Douglas Noyes and Head Coach Dylan Mack

"The Athletic Director was very polite and supportive of the officials crew before, during and after the game," according to the report. "The Head Coach discussed concerns in a professional manner and controlled his sidelines well."

As a result of the report, Mr. Noyes and Mr. Mack received the IHSA's "Sport a Winning Attitude" (SAWA) award.

"On behalf of the Illinois High School Association I would like to commend your school for Sporting A Winning Attitude," wrote IHSA Assistant Executive Director Sam Knox in a letter informing Mr. Noyes and Mr. Mack of the honor.

"As you know," Mr. Knox continued, "one of the goals of interscholastic competition is to teach important values while enriching the educational experience of the young men and women who participate. Sportsmanship is certainly one of those important values."

To learn more about the significance of this recognition, District 401's Dave Porreca interviewed Mr. Noyes and Mr. Mack via email. The following is an edited version of their conversations.

Elmwood ParkĀ and Westmont football players demonstrate good sportsmanship by shaking hands after the Tigers won 13-0 on Sept. 28.

PHOTO: EPHS and Westmont players demonstrate good sportsmanship after the Tigers won 13-0 on Sept. 28. Click image for larger view. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

Q&A with Athletic Director Doug Noyes 

Q: What was your reaction when you received the news of the "Sport a Winning Attitude" (SAWA) award from the IHSA?

A: My reaction was a pleasant surprise.

Q: How often do you and your coaches receive a SAWA commendation? Is this something relatively rare?

A: It is not common. I don't recall the last time a coach received a SAWA from the IHSA.

Q: As athletic director, how do you instill sportsmanship in your coaches, and in turn how do they instill sportsmanship in their student-athletes?

A: Sportsmanship and proper behavior is something we stress in the Athletic Department. In the past I've purchased books, such as Joe Ehrmann's InSideOut Coaching. I share articles I read about sportsmanship and share quotes that may inspire proper behavior or sportsmanship on the athletics Twitter page. This fall I've asked coaches to instill Core Values in their program and teams, and to do an activity that demonstrates those proper values.

Q: What do you think this commendation says about the EPHS athletic program?

A: It makes me proud. I certainly hope the message we send is that winning can be a product of discipline, hard work, perseverance and sacrifice. Those characteristics are far more important in the development of kids than skills attained in the sport. In the context of the game, the officiating crew was appreciative of the communication from EPHS about this rescheduled game from the previous night (because of the storm), the hospitality shown by our staff and the Booster Club, and the sideline decorum of Dylan Mack and the football staff.

Coach Dylan Mack and his Elmwood Park players shake hands with their Westmont opponents after EPHS won 13-0.

PHOTO: Coach Dylan Mack and his players exchange postgame handshakes with the visiting Westmont Sentinels. Click image for larger view. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

Q&A with Head Coach Dylan Mack

Q: What was your reaction when you received the news of the SAWA award from the IHSA?

A: We were a little shocked. I didn't realize that the IHSA gives out that award. We try to treat the officials politely every week and be gracious hosts when we are at home. I think it goes to show how we are as a team and coaching staff. We can be fierce competitors without going over the top or playing outside the rules of the game.

Q: Is this your first SAWA award?

A: This is my first.

Q: As head coach, how do you instill sportsmanship in your coaching staff and in your players? What principles do you try to convey to them?

A: We talk about how we need to expect adversity and that nothing is easy. I think everyone looks at what we have been doing lately and thinks that it's something we just fell into. It took a lot of hard work by players and coaches to get to this point. There were a lot of bumps in the road along the way, and now that we are where we want to be it's even harder to stay there.

Q: How did you develop your own views on sportsmanship and how to conduct yourself with officials, opponents, etc.? Was anyone in particular a big influence on you?

A: I've been blessed to be part of a few different programs over my career, and prior to becoming a high school coach I was an umpire for softball. So I have been in the officials' shoes. I know they are out there because they want to be around a sport they love. My staff and I try to be as respectful as possible to the officials because without them we can't have a game.

When it comes to our opponents, it's tough because I get along well with everyone in our conference. Coming from my prior coaching stops, I've known many of the opposing coaches for years now. With the boys we talk about it all the time — let your play speak louder than you. It's tough with what they see on Saturdays and Sundays, but I feel as though that message has been received. Our boys play hard.

Q: What do you think this commendation says about the EPHS football program?

A: It shows our character as a coaching staff and a program.

EPHS quarterback Mike Stranski (2) leads the Tigers through their postgame handshakes with the Westmont Sentinels.

PHOTO: Quarterback Mike Stranski (2) and his teammates file past their Westmont opponents after a Homecoming win. Click image for larger view. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

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