April 2008 Ethical Hero – Beverly Torok

Published: April 13, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Beverly TorokBeverly Torok is the best example of an athletic coach! 

As swim coach at New Jersey’s Westfield High School, she teaches her student athletes more than the rules of the game.  She teaches them how to be ethical citizens.

Case in point: New Jersey State Swimming Championship, March 2000.

“With our team ahead on the scoreboard, in this very tight championship swim meet, a rule infraction was noticed.  The opposing swimmers were assigned to the incorrect lanes. (The infraction was actually an innocent, clerical error by a student manager from the opposing team.) Though a rule violation, there was virtually no advantage gained by such a rule infraction.  Nonetheless, the infraction resulting from this mistake would have, for all intents and purposes, ended the meet half way through and caused our team to be ‘handed’ the state championship title.

“I fully believe and teach faithfully ‘rules are rules.’ However, to win a championship in this fashion would have taken away the opportunity for our team to win and thus earn that title. We wanted to win the meet in the water and not on the pool deck. My decision to not protest, and continue the meet, did however result in the loss of our state title. Final Score:  Westfield 84, Cherry Hill East 86.

“The sportsmanship of our team and the spirit of the contest were maintained, but the championship was lost by 2 points, in the water. What our team ‘lost’ that day, pales in comparison to the life lessons learned and accolades ‘won’ from such a display of integrity and fair play.”

Coach Torok and her students truly demonstrate the maxim:  It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

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