Gretchen Wolf Swartz scholarships to spike to $100,000 for eight recipients
In one go, the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Fund will nearly double the money it has awarded to student-athletes from York and Adams counties to a level far above any other local sports scholarship.
Named after the woman who promoted sportsmanship as a high school girls' basketball referee from 1981 until 1995, the fund has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships since 2001, all in the name of sportsmanship. The first year awarded a total of $2,000, according to a news release, and the annual totals have steadily risen to last year's sum of $30,000.
But in May, up to eight seniors associated with their high school basketball team will share a total of $100,000 in scholarship money.
"We're optimistic that this will grab some coaches' attention and that they will further emphasize sportsmanship," said Steve Merrick, chairman of the fund's board of directors. "They'd be doing a disservice to their kids if they didn't."
The $70,000 increase in funding was possible, Merrick said, because multiple people - who will remain anonymous - "had chosen to remember us in their will."
The donations were invested, and the scholarships are funded on the returns of those investments. Merrick said the scholarships will remain at the $100,000 level in the future as long as the investments continue to perform.
"It gradually improved and improved and improved," YAIAA executive director Chuck Abbott said of the scholarship. "I just think it's a tremendous gesture on behalf of the basketball chapter."
Abbott said that while the schools should already be emphasizing sportsmanship in all of their programs, the unprecedented size of this scholarship will further underscore that aspect of high school sports.
That kind of money, he added, can take a tremendous financial burden off the shoulders of not just the awarded students but also the parents.
At the end of each season, the York-Adams basketball officials vote for a boys' and a girls' program that displayed great sportsmanship over the course of the year. That vote is based on the conduct of every person associated with the teams, including the fans.
Each team wins a traveling trophy, and any of the team's players, cheerleaders or managers who have been accepted to a post-secondary school can apply for the scholarship money at the foundation's website, www.gwsfund.org. Up to four people from both the girls' and the boys' program will be awarded the funds, Merrick said.
The money will be broken into four levels for both the girls' and boys' winners: The top recipient from each program will receive $20,000, the next $15,000, then $10,000 and finally $5,000.