The WIAA announced Monday that DeForest senior Adam Szepieniec of DeForest High School was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Spirit of Sport Award and Wisconsin’s nominee for the National Federation of State High School Associations’ award.
The individual or group nominated for the award exemplifies the ideals and spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics, according to a release from WIAA communications director Todd Clark. The award is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
According to the release, Szepieniec was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when he was 11 years old. After four months of chemotherapy and 10 days in the hospital, he endured two weeks of full-body radiation treatments.
He received a bone marrow transplant in 2014 and missed an entire semester of seventh grade with a weakened immune system. Szepieniec has been without cancer since 2015 and doesn’t require any medication or further treatment for the disease.
He completed his high school career on the Norskies’ football team last fall.
He lettered all four years and was a starting defensive back and kick returner on DeForest’s 2019 Badger North Conference champion and WIAA Division 3 championship team. He had eight tackles in the title game against Menasha. His interception in the final moments of the championship game preserved an 8-7 victory.
He earned second-team all-conference honors in the Badger North last fall.
He also is a three-time letterwinner in track and field. He was preparing for his senior season when the spring seasons were postponed due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. He competed in the long jump, 100- and 200-meter dashes, and the 400- and 800-meter relay teams in 2019.
He also did well academically and was active in other school and community activities. Szepieniec plays the guitar for the school’s showband choir, and he donates his time reading in elementary schools and visiting children in local hospitals. He has a 3.6 grade point average and plans to attend UW-Milwaukee to pursue a degree in engineering.
As the state’s nominee, Szepieniec will receive an award sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. He would have been recognized at the 2020 WIAA annual meeting this month except the coronavirus pandemic required the meeting to be canceled. He will be recognized later this week during a recorded virtual presentation that will be posted on the WIAA website.
His nomination was advanced to the NFHS Spirit of Sport Committee for sectional and national recognition.
Noah Lambrecht, a former student-athlete at McCool Junction High School in Nebraska, was selected the 2020 national recipient. He was born with a life-threatening heart defect and endured three open-heart surgeries in the first seven weeks of his life. He was then orphaned and left at a Chicago hospital before being adopted by his parents. He required a fourth open-heart surgery and a pacemaker was implanted when he was 8.
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was started in 2008 by the NFHS. The Spirit of Sport Award program in Wisconsin is in its third year.
The other finalists for Wisconsin’s nomination for the Spirit of Sport Award included Hartford’s Lizzie Kovacevich (coach) and Muskego’s Joe Taloff (school supporter).
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