February 28, 2011 : Allison Cundiff/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University students, staff, and faculty, together with members of the Lynchburg community, plunged into chilly Camp Hydaway Lake Saturday afternoon to benefit Special Olympics Virginia at the third annual Hill City Polar Plunge Festival.

Polar Plunge festivals are held in many cities throughout the United States. In 2009, Liberty became the first college or university to host a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Virginia. The event, which included a Battle of the Bands, raised more than $12,000 this year.

“These kids here for Special Olympics are so much fun, and they deserve to play sports just like we do,” said Liberty junior Jill Rogers who took the plunge on Saturday. “So it’s awesome just to be able to give them the chance to do that. It was totally worth it.”

Rogers was one of the more than 50 people who took the dive on Saturday. Participants were provided with lunch and free t-shirts. Prizes such as gift cards, pizza parties, and two trips to Massanutten Resort were awarded to the top individual fundraisers and groups.

Liberty Athletics’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) worked together with Special Olympics Virginia to organize the Polar Plunge. Several Liberty staff members participated this year, including head volleyball coach Shane Pinder and assistant psychology professor Dr. Brianne Friberg. Liberty’s director of athletics, Jeff Barber, was unable to participate, so his wife, Donna, took the plunge in his place.


What does respect mean to you as a student-athlete? I always try to show good sportsmanship; whether it’s picking up the catcher’s mask before the inning starts or helping up a fallen opponent. I respect my opponents and myself, which plays a huge role in my love for softball. My coaches always stress the importance of good sportsmanship.  I know how to “be a good sport” because I have been taught this from the time I was a kid playing in the church t-ball league.  I assume many of you have had similar experiences.

Sportsmanship is a core principle for the NCAA.  In January 2009, the NCAA Committee for Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct (CSEC) began an initiative to promote awareness and education of sportsmanship across the association. Since then, the RESPECT campaign has made its way through the NCAA and has touched administrators, coaches, and student-athletes –  if you haven’t heard about it—Check it out at the NCAA Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Website!

NCAA schools are working to make sportsmanship a top priority on their campuses. Like everything else in this world, communication is key! Talk to your teammates, coaches, and administrators about sportsmanship and the RESPECT campaign. Sometimes fans need a reminder about sportsmanship too. Here are a few ways YOU can promote sportsmanship on your campus:

·       Encourage student-athletes to read the sportsmanship statement before every game! It has more impact on the fans and players if a respected student-athlete reads it.

·       Ask fans to nominate a “Sports Person of the Year”—get fans involved in the process!

·       Meet with local YMCAs and elementary schools to encourage and promote good sportsmanship.

Put up (approved) posters around your school encouraging good sportsmanship. Here are some examples the NCAA has created to promote the RESPECT campaign: