October 1, 2009

Mackiewicz to Receive NCAA Sportsmanship Award

The NCAA recently announced that Brown fencer Aleksandra Mackiewicz has been chosen from thousands of candidates around the country to receive the organization's annual Sportsmanship Award.  The Award honors student-athletes who have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship, including fairness, civility, honesty, unselfishness, respect and responsibility, through their actions in the competitive arena of intercollegiate athletics. Recipients are chosen by the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct.

Before Mackiewicz began her sophomore campaign as a member of the Brown women’s fencing squad, she spoke with her coach about her chances of earning a berth in NCAA regional competition. Mackiewicz was one of four members of the team who specialized in the saber, but by rule only three were permitted to advance to regionals.

In past years, seniority had factored into the decision, but she said the coach indicated the stronger fencer would earn the slot.

Mackiewicz, who rotated between third and fourth starter with senior teammate Charlotte Rose, produced solid results throughout the year, and by the end of the regular season, all four women’s saber competitors had qualified for NCAA regional competition.

It was Mackiewicz, however, not Rose, who went on to clinch one of those coveted regional spots.

Mackiewicz was excited about the opportunity, but, she didn’t feel quite right about it. After all, Rose was a senior, had been dedicated to the team and had never had a chance to compete in an NCAA regional.

After ultimately deciding that Rose deserved the regional opportunity more, Mackiewicz took her idea to the coaches, who agreed to insert Rose in the regional lineup in Mackiewicz’s place.

“Coach announced it to the team and I think Charlotte was really surprised,” said Mackiewicz. “She got up and hugged me. I think the whole team was happy with the decision.”

Though Mackiewicz admitted that she struggled with the decision, she said she has no regrets and is looking forward to making the most of her remaining opportunities to qualify for a regional berth.

“I’m not going to regret my decision because I felt like I was going to have more respect for myself and my teammates and my coaches,” she said. “In the end, I think it was what was going to be more meaningful to me.”

The gesture was meaningful to Rose, who noted in Mackiewicz’s application for the Sportsmanship Award: “I don’t know how often something like what [Aleksandra] did happens, but I definitely think that her selfless sacrificing of her spot really does speak for itself. This is the epitome of putting the team and teammates before oneself, which I believe to be the essence of a great athlete.”

Mackiewicz has taken a leave from her studies and athletics pursuits at Brown this year and is interning at a hospital in Boston. She aspires to explore ways of applying biophysics to medical imaging and architecture.