2014 Spirit of Sport Honorees

Click here to nominate someone you know for a Spirit of Sport Award.

  • January: Westfield High School Football Team

    In addition to a winning record on the field, the Westfield High School football team, embodies the Service of the Poor Core Value. Dedicated to improving the community, the Westfield High School Football Team participated in efforts such as Habitat for Humanity, Henryville tornado cleanup and raising money for relief in Haiti. One fundraising effort this year even sought to aid a player at a rival school and his family after enduring a tragic loss during the season.

    This team's efforts are exactly the type of unsung virtues St.Vincent Sports Performance is committed to honoring through the Spirit of Sport Awards -- those who use sport as a platform to better themselves and their communities.

  • February: Jesse Smith, Carmel High School

    For Jesse Smith, sports is in his blood. His family is full of athletes and he boasts a strong competitive spirit. Beyond that, he loves helping people with creativity and service. Jesse learned early that, "you should put in more than you expect to receive," and he is involved in a number of athletic activities that raise attention and money for area charities. The 5k Family Fun Run he started with his siblings in 2012 has raised close to $10,000 for the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St Vincent. He hopes to increase the give after this April's event.

    Jesse is headed to Butler University this fall after graduating from Carmel High School where he will double major in broadcast journalism and elementary education. He has called 158 games in his high school broadcast career and hopes to continue that professionally. Whether he calls any games at the next level or not, you can bet he will continue impacting lives through athletics for a very long time.

  • March: DJ Glander, Roncalli High School

    DJ Glander has spent the past four football seasons working tirelessly as Roncalli High School's varsity team manager. "It's a tough and oftentimes thankless job," said Head Coach Bruce Scifres. "But it's absolutely crucial to our success as a team."

    His hard work, loyalty and great attitude quickly gained both the respect and friendship of the players, earning his place on the team. Despite physical limitations that kept him off the field, DJ's athletic involvement encouraged him to excel in the classroom, join other extracurriculars like choir, and increased his confidence and self-esteem.

    After graduating this spring, DJ is headed Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. He's confident that the skills he's learned and the traits he's developed through sports will help him to succeed. But for now, he's just enjoying each day left of his high school career.

  • April: Madison Barker

    Madison Barker is a triple threat – she carries a 4.0 GPA, plays two sports and spends several hours a week volunteering in a number of ways. On the field, Madison has played varsity soccer all four years, including a run to the state semi-finals as a freshman and was named to the All-State Academic team back-to-back years. She played JV basketball for two years and joined the varsity swim team her senior year. Madison’s volunteer efforts are as diverse as her athletics as she helps out at the local humane society, serves the hungry at various soup kitchens and tutors several of her fellow students.

    The Guerin Catholic student will wrap up a successful high school career and head to Hanover College fall 2014 to study biology and play soccer for the Panthers.

  • May: Fishers High School Girls’ Basketball

    When Michael Gaines was named coach of the girls' basketball team at the newly-established Fishers High School in 2006, he knew that his role would extend far beyond the court. With that in mind, he established the team with a focus on spiritual and mental strength, citizenship and character.

    Today, the team develops and practices those values through a strong commitment to community service, participating in a different activity each month of the basketball season. This past season alone, the girls read to elementary school students, adopted a family in need during the holidays, practiced with the local Special Olympics girls' basketball teams, and hosted a silent auction to raise awareness and funds for multiple cancer-focused foundations.

    Through these various projects, Coach Gaines sees his players grow personally, bond as a team and develop a true sense of self, community and gratitude -- all while giving back and helping others.

  • June: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

    In a sport where just half a second can mean the difference between a win and a loss, teams are constantly looking for that extra edge. For Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM), that means focusing on improving all areas of performance -- at the track, in the garage and in the weight room. Employing the expertise of coaches, nutritionists and sports psychologists at St.Vincent Sports Performance, the SPM team works tirelessly to train their bodies, improve their diets, and prepare their minds for the challenge of each race.

    Despite a five-month-long season, SPM works for each tenth of a second seven days a week, 358 days a year. (They do reward themselves with one week off after the season). During a race week, the team will typically log between 60-80 hours a week, but no one complains -- they're all working toward a common goal. It's that dedication and competitive drive that has brought the team two wins, one pole and eight Top 5 finishes so far this year. Undeterred by being a small and young team in the Verizon IndyCar Series, SPM remains in the hunt for the 2014 championship.

  • July: Tom Sauer

    Season after season, Tom Sauer has dedicated the majority of his life to umping Little League Baseball. Not only does he make the calls, he uses the opportunity to teach the kids about sportsmanship and teamwork, serving as a father figure to many. So much so that despite not having any children of his own, he still receives Father's Day cards each year.

    For Tom, being on that field is inspiring. It's an outlet for when work or life gets a little too hectic. When he was diagnosed with liver cancer a couple years ago, he heeded the doctor's advice for treatment but turned to the field to help him cope and heal mentally.

    Now, thanks to his 39 years of dedication, Tom has been selected to ump the legendary 2014 Little League World Series at Williamsport. As one of 16 to be selected across the globe, it is quite the honor.

  • August: Joey Elliott

    Service is a value so deeply instilled in Joey Elliott that he almost doesn’t recognize it until others point it out. For the past four years, he’s demonstrated that through his actions as student manager for the Roncalli High School boys basketball team – a job that requires a lot with very little reward.

    Not even a tumor in his cervical spine, found the summer before his senior year, could keep him away from the team. In fact, the diagnosis brought him closer to team members and coaches as he leaned on them for support. And despite a risky surgery in Boston that kept him away from school for a month, Joey still managed to earn a 4.13 GPA that semester.

    Now a freshman at Marian University in Indianapolis, Joey is continuing this trend of service by pursuing a career in nursing. He hopes to guide and support patients through tough times, just like his nurses did for him.

  • September: Hamilton Heights Middle School Football

    At Hamilton Heights Middle School, football is about more than the Friday night lights. Head coach Tim Webber uses each season as an opportunity to instill new lessons and values in his young players. This year, the focus was giving back to the community. Each Wednesday, a position group on the seventh and eighth grade teams skipped practice in favor of volunteering their time to Angels' Attic, where they sorted items and got the shop ready for those in need. And each Friday night game was an opportunity to bring different items like canned goods and other food to donate.

    Not only did the athletes grow closer as a team, but they were able to realize the importance of their efforts in the community. Even without football, they agreed, it's something they look forward to continuing in the future. In a day and age when the focus of youth sports is all too often the number of points on the board, we salute Hamilton Heights for using it as an avenue for building strong, dedicated leaders.

  • October: Will Roberts

    Will Roberts was first exposed to Special Olympics Indiana last year as a freshman at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. What started out as a fun day refereeing flag football games has since sparked a passion in Will that has motivated him to get further involved in Unified Sports and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Games.

    This year Will was elected to the Student Athlete Leadership Team (S.A.L.T.), a student operated organization tasked with annually planning the EKS Games. Will considers it an honor to be involved in the games and wears his pride on his sleeve when recruiting others to get involved.

    Nearly the entire Brebeuf student body is involved in the games in some fashion and students like Will are the catalysts driving such high participation. Will still has a lot of time ahead of him at Brebeuf and he intends to utilize that time by making sure that Special Olympics Indiana events like the EKS Games become bigger every year.

  • November: Jacob Robinson

    When Westfield High School's Jacob Robinson broke his foot in the middle of the football season, his first thought was his team. He wasn't worried about potential surgery or that he may miss out on college recruiting efforts. His team was headed to the playoffs and he knew he needed to be there for them in any capacity possible, so he continued to lead from the sidelines. But as the team continued to advance, he stepped back onto the field.

    Jacob's commitment earned him an appearance at the Indiana State Football Championship game and a scholarship to Indiana University, but that's not what motivated him. He knows that football is more than a winning record; his resiliency is driven solely by his dedication to the team and their collective goals. It is this value that earned Jacob recognition as a Spirit of Sport Award Honoree and something that he will carry forward as he heads into the new world of collegiate football.

  • December: Madison Hays

    Madison Hays decided she wanted to be the best runner she could be. Little did she know it would be such an undertaking. Through determination, spirit and a little help from the SVSP staff, Madison kept pace with and then exceeded her goals in spit of injuries and other road blocks, helping propel Seymour’s girls cross-country team to its first State Cross Country Meet.