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FORNEY, Texas — The Forney High School Softball Team has been selected as the Section 6 recipient of the ‘National High School Spirit of Sport Award’ by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. 

A few days before the Forney High School softball team was to play a three-game series against Mansfield Lake Ridge in the 2017 Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 5A Region II semifinals, an unspeakable tragedy beset the team. 

As teammates left a dinner party, 14-year-old freshman outfielder Emily Galiano was fatally injured when she was struck by a vehicle driven by one of her teammates. 

Understandably, team members were devastated by the tragic loss of their teammate. The softball field became a sanctuary for the girls – a place where they could mourn and honor their fallen sister.

 At the end of the season, the team decided to dedicate the entire 2018 season to Galiano, to make it to the state tournament, and to win the school’s first softball state championship in her honor. The team’s motto would be “Play for Em.” 

Following an 8-6 start, the Lady Jackrabbits won their next 23 games and advanced to the Texas UIL State Softball Tournament. During the playoffs, Forney defeated defending champion The Colony in the area round, won two close games by the score of 4-3, and experienced some miracle plays. 

The Jackrabbits advanced to the state finals against Richmond Foster. In that title game, left fielder Caroline Tedder made a game-saving catch against the fence to give Forney the game and the state title. At home plate, Emily’s twin sister, Madison, was presented the championship trophy as the promise to her sister was fulfilled. 

“It’s a great honor for these girls to receive this recognition from the National Federation of State High School Associations,” said Forney High School Head Softball Coach Pat Eitel. “They have worked so hard over the past year and have had to overcome a great tragedy. We played for so much more than just a championship. Their team unity has been a key factor in their success and truly exemplifies the spirit of sport! We are so much more than a team, we are a family.” Forney ISD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, or age in its programs and activities. 

Nominations for the National High School Spirit of Sport Award are generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members. 

The national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. Section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year. 

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. The organization divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 6 are Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. 

The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org

For more information about the Forney Independent School District, contact the Forney ISD Marketing and Communications Department at info@edu.forneyisd.net or by phone at 972-564-4055.