The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) recently named Rowland Hall senior Hank Shipman as this year’s Utah recipient of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Spirit of Sport Award. Hank will be recognized at an upcoming state tournament event or at a Rowland Hall morning meeting for his accomplishments. Kendra Tomsic, director of athletics, nominated Shipman for the award. This award seeks to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
The award may be given in recognition of a specific act or for an activity of longer duration. It could be awarded to an individual or group that has demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship and/or citizenship in playing the game as it should be played, has exceeded normal expectations in assisting others within the school or community, or has overcome adversity or a challenging circumstance. For those who know Hank Shipman, you realize that he meets all three of those descriptions. It is miraculous that Hank can even walk again, that he can carry his own backpack, and that he has been able to once again don the Rowland Hall green and white and not only play on our baseball and golf teams, but also contribute as an impact player on those teams. It is miraculous that he is even alive.
His unbelievable recovery from near life-ending injuries he sustained in a car accident in April 2011 while traveling/competing with the Rowmark Ski Academy team is an amazing story of perseverance, determination, and strength of character to do the impossible, and one that has touched and inspires all of those who know him. It is the courageous story that, when told through the nomination paperwork required by the NFHS for this award, brought this well-deserved honor to Hank.
Hank supports other young people who have experienced physical traumas similar to his. For his junior year of service at Rowland Hall, he volunteered in the Neuroscience Trauma Unit rehab room at Primary Children’s Hospital, working with kids during their rehab, as well as speaking to parents and patients with the message that recovery is possible. Hank also worked as a volunteer with Neuroworx, the facility where he did his rehab, last year and the past two summers. Having decided to dedicate his life to helping others heal from spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, he hopes to become a neurosurgeon, medical rehabilitation doctor, or orthopedic surgeon.
His nomination portfolio, along with those of other state winners from Section 7 (Utah, Nevada, California, Hawaii, Arizona), will now be considered by a committee to determine a Section winner. The Section winners from the eight sections will then be in the running for being named the National NFHS recipient of this award. Given his track record for taking on and conquering challenge, Hank is sure to achieve his dreams.