Late last week, as Susquehannock coach Dave Schreiner was amid a typical girls' basketball practice. Preparations were under way for a District 3 tournament game.

Then Chuck Abbott walked in.

"He doesn't usually come in and said he wanted to talk to the kids," Schreiner said of his athletic director. "I said hopefully it was a good thing."

It was.

Abbott informed Schreiner and his players that YAIAA officials had voted their team as the girls' winner of the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Award, which will result in one senior being selected for a one-time $5,000 scholarship in May.

In the same day, Abbott delivered the same news to John Zerfing about his boys' program.

"Obviously he was on Cloud 9," Zerfing said. "I think that's really neat."

The feeling is one Abbott knows well. Since 2001, no YAIAA school has had more Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship winners. No other school has won both in the same year -- feat accomplished by Susquehannock in 2003.

Former girls' basketball player Audrey Bare was one of the first to receive a scholarship in 2001, when it was then $1,000. Slowly, the amount has grown. Last year, winners received $3,500 each. Gordon Kauffman, a member of the scholarship board and longtime basketball official, hopes that number will still increase for the coming years.

Last week, he was the one who called Abbott with the news about his school.


"When he called, needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised," Abbott said. "Getting one is awesome, but when you get both of them it was overwhelming."

Kauffman estimated more than 100 basketball officials participate in voting, and about 50 boys' votes and 50 girls' votes were received. Officials had until Feb. 11 to vote. Seniors at Susquehannock, whether they are members of the basketball teams, a team manager or cheerleader, now have a chance to win a scholarship. They will receive an application, Abbott said, then have the opportunity to apply with an essay and eventually be interviewed by the Gretchen Wolf Scholarship board.

Schreiner had no doubt all four of his senior players will apply.

"I know one of the seniors was asking today," Schreiner said Thursday before the Warriors' district quarterfinal with Lancaster Catholic, "when she came in ... 'When can we apply for that scholarship?'"

One of them, with someone from the boys' side, will be the ninth and 10th Susquehannock students to win the scholarships.

"They've been just talked about all year about their sportsmanship," Kauffman said, "and I wasn't surprised when I found out the result of the vote."

Although Susquehannock has enjoyed scholarship winners in the past, this will be the first for either program under Schreiner and Zerfing. Both credited Abbott, a former baseball coach at the school, who tells his coaches: "only worry about the things you can control and what you can control is how you act. You can't control what an official is going to call."

"I tell the kids the same thing," Schreiner said.

Zerfing tries to simulate those moments in practice. One day, they won't call fouls. Another, he will set the odds against his starters with a seven-on-five situation.

"We try to simulate situations where kids might get stressed," Zerfing said. "And can they keep their composure?"

Judging by the YAIAA officials' votes, they did.

Abbott pointed to win-loss records, too, saying "I don't think it goes to an 0-20 team, but the team that works hard in a way the referees respect." Zerfing's boys were 14-8 this season, while Schreiner's girls were 16-7 entering Saturday's district quarterfinal.

"I say this very often. We've been fortunate," Abbott said. "We have great kids. Everybody has great kids, but this is an opportunity for them and one of them will receive some help for the next level."

In Susquehannock's case, two of them.
@mgoul; 771-2045