CONWAY — Basketball referees may not see everything that happens on the court but they saw enough of Kennett High junior Liz Cote to name her the 2018-19 recipient of the prestigious John E. Burke Sportsmanship Award. Only one girl and one boy in the Granite State are bestowed this honor each year.
Cote, with her mom, Lisa, and dad, Steve, on hand along with Coach Larry Meader and KHS Athletic Director Neal Weaver were at Kennett High on Thursday when Dennis Ordway of Bow, representing the N.H. Basketball Officials Association, came to school to make the presentation.
The award, according to the N.H. Basketball Officials Association’s website, is presented annually “to a high school junior boy or girl who exemplify the principles of sportsmanship, integrity and dependability on and off the basketball court. Candidates for the award are nominated during the season by IAABO basketball officials throughout the state. Nominations are validated by coaches and others knowledgeable about the background of the nominees. The award recipients are selected by a vote of the members of the state executive committee.”
Cote, who also received All-State Honorable Mention accolades in Division II while helping the Eagles to the state championships game last winter, received a plaque and a large banner noting her accomplishments that will be flown in the rafters at the Nest.
“It’s pretty big deal and a first for Kennett basketball,” Meader said. “To think it’s only given out to juniors and just one boy and one girl, that puts Liz in pretty special company.”
“We had no idea but obviously we’re very proud,” Steve Cote, who is also an assistant coach for the Eagles, said.
The award, “in honor of the late John E. Burke, a former president of our board who officiated high school and college games for 33 years,” according to the website, “takes on added prestige when you realize that this is one of the few awards where the class or size of the school does not play a part in the selection process. … The ability of Mr. Burke to set the highest standard of conduct during games was an inspiration to thousands of players and officials during his career.”
Following Burke’s death in 1962, the NHBO chose to remember him by creating John E. Burke Sportsmanship Award.
“Nominations come from all of the officials around the state and then they vote,” Meader said. “The officials take it pretty seriously. It was nice to have Steve and is there along with a bunch of Liz’s teammates.”
Kennett is scheduled to begin summer basketball activities on June 19.