While the Musial Awards prides itself on its national scope, it also honors its St. Louis roots by annually spotlighting local stories that rise to the level of extraordinary sportsmanship. This year, the Musial Awards proudly recognize two hometown honorees: Bri Ebenroth of O’Fallon, Mo., and Steve Bonastia, coach of the Seckman High School softball team in Imperial, Mo.
A 2013 graduate of St. Dominic High School, Bri Ebenroth was an academic and athletic standout. She earned straight A’s all four years and captained the school’s soccer, cross country, and junior varsity basketball teams. Her greatest success came as part of St. Dominic’s nationally-ranked soccer squad. Bri received multiple all-conference, all-metro and all-state honors. She embodied what being a student-athlete is all about.
In the spring of her sophomore year, Bri accepted an academic and athletic scholarship to Drury University in Springfield, Mo. She was on her way to a promising collegiate soccer career. But last fall, during her senior year at St. Dominic, her health took a dramatic turn. She was experiencing chronic fatigue, soreness and other symptoms. After extensive testing and a visit to the Mayo Clinic, Bri was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a rare immune deficiency disease. Her soccer future was in doubt. No longer could she compete at the high level she expected of herself. So she made a tremendously classy, selfless and mature decision. Bri notified Drury of her medical condition and informed the soccer program she was returning her scholarship. “The coach deserved to have a player who could perform her best at all times and produce for them,” she said. Even though Drury was prepared to honor its commitment, Bri felt she owed the university and the coach who believed in her the opportunity to use the scholarship on someone else who could contribute.
Even with her medical condition, Bri made the most of her senior season at St. Dominic this past spring. She helped lead the school to its second consecutive state title. In the championship game, she capped her career with one more gesture of exemplary sportsmanship. With three minutes to go and St. Dominic up 2-0, Bri asked her coach to substitute her for any teammates who had not yet played. St. Dominic Director of Athletics Jim Welby said, “Despite being her last competitive soccer game ever, Bri wanted to take herself out so her teammates could have the memory forever. She had the foresight, compassion and sportsmanship to think past the moment and think about her teammates in the biggest game and moment of the year.”
In August, Bri received the Sportsmanship Scholarship that is awarded by the St. Louis Sports Commission’s young professionals group – the Sports Commission Associates. The scholarship is given annually to graduating high school students from the St. Louis region who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship in athletic competition. Selected as the Associates’ top scholarship recipient, Bri earned $5,000 to apply to her educational expenses at the University of Missouri, where she is enrolled as a freshman.
While she may be more removed from sports now, Bri tries to make it every year to the Musial Awards. She had a chance to reflect on sportsmanship and what her Musial Award means to her now.Read Feature