ATHENS-----University of Georgia junior Maho Kowase is the female recipient of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Sportsmanship Award. She will now be the league’s nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship award, to be announced in July.
This is the latest SEC honor for Kowase, a native of Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan, after being selected by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics. The male recipient wound up being shared between the South Carolina and Tennessee football teams.
“Sportsmanship, civility and societal responsibility are things that will lead to victories throughout the course of life,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “I congratulate Maho and the University of South Carolina and University of Tennessee football teams for this prestigious honor, and for being committed to athletic excellence and overall excellence.”
During the 2012 NCAA Women’s Tennis Team Championships, Georgia second round match with Clemson was tied 3-3 and came down to Kowase’s singles contest where she was trailing in the final set. An official made an incorrect score call that favored Kowase. Upon hearing the official's report, she came forward and agreed with her opponent on the correct score. She kept her poise to go on to win the match, pushing her team into the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. While her match score was still good enough to win the competition, her integrity prevailed.
On the court in 2013, Kowase earned All-SEC First Team accolades for the third consecutive year. She helped the Bulldogs post a 24-4 record, reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships, capture a share of the SEC regular season title and a final national ranking of No. 5. In singles, Kowase ended the year ranked No. 21 nationally after going 38-10. She paired with Lauren Herring to go 14-2 in doubles and wound up ranked No. 48.
Kowase was part of the tennis team that posted the highest Grade Point Average of any UGA athletic team in 2013 at 3.48 to earn ITA All-Academic team honors. Also, she was selected as Georgia’s Sportsmanship and Ethics Award winner.
“This is a well-deserved honor for Maho who has been an excellent representative of the Bulldog program on the court and in the classroom,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “We’re excited for her as she prepares for her upcoming senior season.”
Kowase is the first Georgia women’s tennis player to earn the overall SEC Sportsmanship Award. The only other Georgia student-athlete to receive this award was Laura Eddy (soccer, 2012) since its inception in 2008.
For the male recipient this year, the USC and UT football squads shared the honor for their actions during their game on Oct. 27. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a severe knee injury in the second quarter against Tennessee, the second of his career. While it is customary for the teammates on the field at the time of an injury to gather around, South Carolina’s entire sideline encircled its fallen player. It did not take long for Tennessee’s team to follow suit.
Despite being engaged in a heated conference game, both teams set aside their battle to show support for a football player, regardless of which uniform he wore. The act displayed both great sportsmanship by the teams gathered as one support unit as well as the impact that Lattimore had on his sport.
Below is a list of SEC Sportsmanship recipients:
2013 – University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina Football Teams, Maho Kowase, Georgia (Tennis)
2012 – Matt Walters, Arkansas (Tennis); Joanna Mather, Florida (Tennis); Laura Eddy, Georgia (Soccer)
2011 – Louis Day, South Carolina (Track & Field); Ole Miss Softball Team
2010 – Rodney Scott, Ole Miss (Football); Sam Arbaugh, South Carolina (Softball)
2009 – Dorian Ulrey, Arkansas (Track & Field); Alabama Women’s Tennis Team
2008 – Chris Lofton, Tennessee (Basketball); Jessica Yadloczky, Florida (Golf)