The San Manuel boys’ basketball team recently concluded one of the most successful seasons in school history and followed that achievement by being chosen as the winner of the 2020 Arizona Interscholastic Association 2A Conference Boys Basketball Sportsmanship Award.
The award “is reserved for a school that exhibits ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity as determined by information collected from (AIA) Varsity game officials,” as written by Brian Gessner, the AIA State Commissioner of Officials, in a letter to San Manuel MBB head coach Damon Lovato.
“It’s an honor and a reflection of the boys buying into our program day in and day out,” Lovato told the San Manuel Miner during a phone interview. “Our program and our culture never changed.”
The Miners were selected by the referees, which made the award even more credible, according to Lovato.
“It’s not a popularity contest,” Lovato said. “It is impartial referees and how they view your program – home and away – our facilities, and how our players carry themselves.”
Lovato had an interesting response if the award sets the standard for future to classes to emulate.
“A plaque doesn’t create that, it’s part of our culture already,” he said. “I feel that’s been instilled from day one. Even if we didn’t receive the plaque, sportsmanship is still the standard and expectation within our program. Others now know what we’ve already known about ourselves, and that is rewarding.”