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Isabella McDonald and the Springstead Culture

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Ever since Head Coach Zach Anspach accepted the role as Springstead’s girls’ basketball coach in 2019, he has worked to foster a culture of “We Over Me.” What does the motto mean? While some might hear a saying like this and write it off as coachspeak, Eagles’ Sophomore Guard Isabella McDonald’s recent “write-up” shows Coach Anspach’s mentality in action. Getting written up generally carries with it a less than positive connotation, but this refreshing exception was a positive report on McDonald for the sportsmanship she displayed in a 33-22 victory at Lecanto on January 10th earlier this year. Rocky Torres, the official who submitted the AT07 Exceptional Sportsmanship Report to the FHSAA, felt the underclassman’s actions certainly warranted recognition.

“Springstead’s [McDonald] shows great respect and sportsmanship towards, not just the opposing team’s players, but the officials,” Torres wrote in his report. “She is extremely polite on the court towards the officials and with a kind eye towards her teammates and opposing team’s players. She shows great sporting habits and behavior meriting acknowledgment and reward.”
The sophomore has already been recognized on the school’s social media accounts and was awarded some spirit gear from the athletic department, but she will also be acknowledged by the school at a freshman orientation event in addition to her recognition by the state near the end of the school year in either April or May. In light of the positive report on McDonald, Springstead was also automatically nominated for the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award.
According to the FHSAA’s website, the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Program awards a winner and a runner-up in each classification to the schools of teams that “demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship during the regular season and FHSAA State Series” and “whose entire sports program best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship as demonstrated by its coaches, players, and spectators.” A variety of criteria are considered when deciding a winner, including the nature and frequency of ejections, the aforementioned sportsmanship reports, and where their nomination came from, among others.

So, who is Isabella McDonald? In addition to her role on the basketball team, the underclassman also serves as a member of the Springstead JROTC Honor Guard. Coach Anspach notes that she is not only an extremely hard worker but is also one of the most improved players on the team. Despite only being a sophomore, the Springstead coach also feels McDonald possesses many qualities that convey leadership. The sophomore’s exemplary qualities have also helped the team to a 16-9 season record, which is tied for the best in school history, and Coach Anspach believes her recognition is a milestone for his “We Over Me” culture.

“She displays all the positive attributes of a leader and always knows how to control her attitude, communication, body language, coachability, and enthusiasm,” Coach Anspach said. “This is a very rare skill set in student athletes today that is often overlooked in high school sports, but is one of the biggest benefits that high school athletics can teach young people that will guide them the rest of their lives.”

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The Springstead head coach is excited to see what the future holds for his program. With only two players graduating from the team and the mindset that is being instilled, Coach Anspach feels this squad and the entire program are primed to be competitive “for years to come.”

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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