The Most Valuable Player of the Lac qui Parle Valley High School girls basketball team felt there were two others on her team who were just as deserving of the honor – so she came up with a creative way of making things right.
KARE 11 says Alaysia Freetly asked her coach, Ryan Giles – who is also the Madison, Minnesota, school's industrial arts teacher – to saw the award into three parts the morning after she received the honor at the school's basketball banquet. Showing up at Giles' office in the western Minnesota school, KARE says a teary-eyed Freetly told her coach that junior Kaitlin Connor and eighth-grader Kelsea Lund had statistics that made them just as deserving of the honor.
After Giles cut the wood and metal plaque into three equal parts with a hacksaw, he called the team to his classroom to re-present the newly divided honor in an impromptu ceremony.
Giles told KARE the event was "ultimately the proudest moment I've had as a coach," and praised Freetly for her generosity and sportsmanship.
Freetly's decision to have her MVP award sawed into three is the latest in a trio of high-profile acts of sportsmanship by a Minnesota teen to capture the attention of the local media.
Last month, Hopkins High School boys basketball team manager Grant Petersen showed grace in the team's loss to Lakeville North in the 4A state basketball championship game. A senior born with Down syndrome, Petersen jumped up and down, raised his arms and gave two thumbs up to his family in the stands when his name was called to receive his second-place medal.
“It was a beautiful moment, a kid overjoyed to get a medal in a sport he loves,” the Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins wrote. “Unwittingly, Grant showed all of us what grace and sportsmanship look like.”
Another act of sportsmanship last month caught not just the attention of local media, but news outlets nationwide.
After losing his State 3A championship match to St. Michael-Albertville High School sophomore Mitchell McKee, Blaine High School sophomore Malik Stewart didn't sulk, but did something else to move the crowd to tears. He ran over to his opponent’s dad, Steve McKee, to shake his hand and embrace him.
Mitchell McKee had been training hard all season so Steve McKee, who is suffering from terminal cancer, could see him wrestle in the state tournament.
The story of the McKees and Stewart was featured on "CBS Sunday Morning,"ABC News and Sports Illustrated online. On NBC’s “Today” show, co-host Tamron Hall set up the story by saying, “This moment out of Minnesota is so heartwarming, it is absolutely beautiful.”
Earlier this month, Stewart was honored by the Anoka County Board of Commissioners for his classy gesture.
Presenting him with a certificate, Board Chair Rhonda Sivarajah told Stewart, “Your actions really exemplify for the community what really is important in Minnesota and really in Anoka County."