BEACON FALLS — The old adage of “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” doesn’t necessarily apply when it comes to the Woodland girls swimming and diving team.
The Hawks had their best record (10-2) and finish at the NVL championship meet (4th) since 2011 this past fall, but their times in the pool weren’t the only aspect of the team that impressed area swim officials.
The Western Connecticut Swim Officials Association gave its Sportsmanship Award for the fall 2016 season to Woodland. The award, which is voted on by officials, is presented to a team in the league that exercised excellent sportsmanship throughout the season.
“It doesn’t necessarily say that we’re all the best swimmers, or anything like that, it really just shows we care about how we are as a team, care about each other and who we’re racing,” junior Dia Gawronski said.
The upperclassmen on this year’s team said the commitment to sportsmanship stems from head coach Mike Magas, who stresses the importance of treating every team with respect.
The upperclassmen, including senior captains Taylor Amore, Olivia Rua, Tatianna Lynn and Veronica Dergachev, and juniors Gawronski, Brooke Pope, Kyla Drewry and Jordan Williams, took that message to heart.
“Throughout all of our meets, win or lose, we kept up with being a good sportsman, which is just as important as winning,” Amore said.
Practicing what their coach preaches is easier said than done and can be especially difficult after a bad race in the pool.
Drewry said the team’s close bond made it easier to maintain that attitude.
“Since we all got along and treated each other well it was very easy to treat other teams the way we treated each other,” Drewry said.
“It’s just all about the cheering and keeping that hype up,” Rua added, “because I think that overall helps with everything.”
The award wasn’t on the team’s radar when the season began — in fact the girls didn’t know it existed — so winning it came as a bit of a surprise.
“We have respect for each other and other people so we don’t have to try to be respectful. It comes naturally,” Dergachev said. “It was more of a surprise because it’s not something that we worked for.”
Magas knows all about the award, though. The team has won it five times in the program’s history — three under his watch — but he was still pleasantly surprised when he learned this year’s squad had won.
“I think it’s well deserved,” he said. “They not only love the sport, they love each other.”