Often wins NCAA Division II sportsmanship award
Submitted by Jamie Schanback
FAIRBANKS, AK - Alaska Nanooks' skier Einar Often has been selected as the male winner of the 2008 Division II Sportsmanship Award. Central Washington's softball player Mallory Holtman made it a clean sweep for the GNAC in Division II winning the women's award as well as taking home the National Sportsmanship award.
"There are 80,000 DII student-athletes and only two DII sportsmanship awards," UAF athletic director Forrest Karr pointed out. "Everyone associated with the GNAC is proud of both Mallory and Einar. "The conference has provided the stability and leadership necessary for all teams at all membership institutions to do things the right way on and off the field and that is shown by these awards."
Often, from Tynset, Norway, sacrificed his opportunity to qualify for the NCAA National Skiing championships last winter when he gave his pole to teammate Ray Sabo after Sabo broke his pole during the opening kilometer of the 10K Classic race at the NCAA Central Regionals at Biwabik, Minn.
Sabo came into the race just one-tenth of a point away from a berth in the national championships. With Einar's pole, he went on to have one of the best races of his collegiate career, finishing eighth to earn a berth in the NCAA Nationals.
Often was a "bubble" skier himself and his act of sportsmanship effectively ended his hopes to qualify for the NCAAs. After eventually getting a pole from another coach, he went on to finish 23rd in the race.
Even though he didn't qualify, Often paid his own airfare to the NCAAs in Bozeman, Mont., volunteering to serve as a student-assistant during the championship week - waxing skis and providing support to his teammates on the race course.
In addition to his sportsmanship on the course, Often has also made an effort to give back to his community. He took part in a number of service events, including participating in a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Community Day; a meet-and-greet between local school children and UAF student-athletes.
He also worked as a volunteer coach with the Nordic Ski Club in Fairbanks, helping to teach cross country skiing to local children. He also volunteered his time to help clean and maintain the skiing facilities at the Birch Hill trails in Fairbanks as well as serving as a steward at the annual Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks.
Holtman was chosen the overall winner from among the three divisional winners. Latasha Jarrett of the University of Hartford was the Division I winner. Holtman was selected for Division II and Kristen Carter of Grove City College was selected for Division III. The St. John Fisher college baseball team was the Division III and overall winner. Peter French of the U.S. Air Force Academy was named the Division I winner.