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What True Sportsmanship Looks Like: Runner Stops To Comfort Struggling Opponent.

Cooper Kohanski kneels to check on fellow runner Andrew Hawkinson

Playing sports teaches students a lot about how to behave, both on the field and off.

Middle schooler Andrew Hawkinson of Baldwinsville, New York had never run a cross-country race before, but he gave it his all at a modified cross country meet against rivals from Liverpool Middle School. He completed the race, but at the finish line of the mile-and-a-half course, the boy couldn’t seem to catch his breath.

Andrew took a knee and tried to compose himself, crying from the exertion of the run. Cooper Kohanski, a runner for the other team, heard Andrew crying, and he didn’t think twice about approaching him with words of encouragement and empathy.

“When I turned around, I heard a kid sobbing, which is common because it really does hurt, so I wanted to make sure he was okay,” said Cooper.

As Cooper knelt next to his opponent, someone snapped a photograph of the two boys. The Liverpool TF/XC team later shared the image on Twitter, where it quickly made the rounds on the internet.

Cooper told Andrew he’d done a good job in the race, and he’d be okay once his body recovered. Moments later Andrew felt better, and the two shared a fist bump.

Andrew’s mother Wendy Hawkinson witnessed the whole scene and was incredibly moved.

“It just really fed my soul and I was just really impressed,” said Wendy. “I wouldn’t have expected somebody from the other team to check on him.”

Those who know Cooper best say they’re not the least bit surprised, however. Coach Greg Hamilton says Cooper is always the first to be there when another runner is struggling. He even helps the coach when he’s feeling overwhelmed; it’s just in the boy’s nature to help others.

Cooper thinks running cross-country is about much more than winning the match! It’s about sportsmanship, character, and basic human kindness. It’s our pleasure to shine a spotlight on such special young man!

Don’t forget to share to make sure your friends get to celebrate Cooper, too.

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