Navy's Gutsche Receives Patriot League Sportsmanship Award
June 24, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Navy tennis standout Nicholas Gutsche and Lehigh track & field athlete E'Lana Lemon are the recipients of the 2012-13 Patriot League Sportsmanship Award it was announced Monday afternoon. Gutsche and Lemon were chosen by a vote of the League's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The Patriot League Sportsmanship Awards are in their eighth year after being created to honor student-athletes that uphold the principles on which the League was founded - fairness, equality and excellence in academics and athletics. The awards are open to all Patriot League student-athletes and each of the eight Patriot League institutions is eligible to nominate a male and female for the award.
Gutsche, who graduated from the Naval Academy in May and was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy, was a stalwart competitor on the Navy men's tennis team that has been a perennial contender for the Patriot League title, including winning championships in 2010 and 2012. Gutsche was a tremendous competitor and sportsman in all four years at Navy, especially during his senior campaign when he lent leadership and guidance to a program seeking to repeat as League champion. In all competition he handled himself with distinction and class, never questioning a line call made by an opponent. During the Army match in Gutsche's junior season, both he and his Black Knight opponent were suffering from cramps. Gutsche exhibited tremendous sportsmanship, grace and respect toward his opponent during the course of the match.
"Nick is a great choice for this prestigious Patriot League-wide award," said 29th-year Navy head coach and seven-time Patriot League Coach of the Year John Officer. "I have been fortunate to have the Region I Sportsman of the Year two years in a row in Mitchell Koch and Nick Gutsche is every bit the sportsman that Mitchell was. He is a complete class act on the court. In every situation Nick has been the consummate sportsman. He handled the few losses he had with distinction and would always look his opponent in the eye and congratulate him on a match well played.
Added Officer, "I never had even one time when Nick's behavior was not above reproach. Nick always put ethical play far ahead of the end result. Nick will make a great submarine officer."
Gutsche is Navy's second student-athlete to win the Male Sportsmanship Award, and the first in the history of the honor from the sport of tennis.
Lemon, also a recently graduated senior, has become one of the most decorated track and field student-athletes in recent memory, being named Patriot League Field Athlete of the Week on 13 occasions. She set six consecutive personal records in the hammer throw during the indoor season, culminating with a gold medal at the Patriot League Championship Meet in February. Lemon's success continued during the outdoor campaign, where she set personal records in two out of three competitions. But her drive for the Lehigh record and another League championship took a backseat to teammate and training partner Jimil Ataman, who captured gold at the meet in May and bettered Lemon's mark by over six feet. In leading her teammates to strive for their best performances on any given day, Lemon demonstrated exceptional sportsmanship in congratulating Ataman on her gold medal and school record-breaking accomplishment.
Lemon's sportsmanship also extended to League opponents and rivals. She was edged out in the hammer throw by an opponent from rival Lafayette during a competition, and when the time came to meet her challenger, Lemon greeted her with a smile and a hug.
"E'Lana Lemon is a woman whom I consider one of the finest competitors and class act student-athletes I've coached," Lehigh head track and field coach Matt Utesch said. "She is an intrinsically motivated athlete who pushes herself far harder than any coach could ask."
Lemon becomes the second consecutive track and field student-athlete to win the Female Sportsmanship Award, and the third from Lehigh.
Gutsche and Lemon will now be forwarded on to the NCAA to be considered for the national sportsmanship honor.