The Founders League awarded the M.D. Nadal Sportsmanship Award to longtime Loomis Chaffee coach and teacher Sally Knight on Monday, April 15, at the league's annual meeting of heads of school and athletic directors.
The award was established in 1969 to honor Manuel D. "Bill" Nadal, an outstanding athlete, coach, and steadfast supporter of athletics at Kent School. The award originally was given to a member of the Erickson Football League, but eligibility was expanded to other sports after the establishment of the Founders League.
The annual award is presented to students, faculty, staff, teams, and student bodies who "play by the rules, accept victory or defeat graciously, respect all who assemble and participate." It may be awarded in recognition of sportsmanship during a particular contest or throughout a season, or in recognition of continued contributions to athletics and the league.
Coach Knight has worked at Loomis Chaffee for 38 years, starting immediately after graduating from Wesleyan University in 1981. She has coached the boys cross country team to 13 Founders League titles and three New England Championships. Her athletes have won the Division I New England cross country individual title seven times, and she has coached all of the runners who hold Loomis school records in cross country and in track's distance events. Many of her athletes have gone on to outstanding collegiate running careers, including three runners who became Division I All-Americans and many more who became Division III All-Americans.
Coach Knight, who teaches English and is the director of writing initiatives at Loomis, earned a master's degree in liberal studies from Wesleyan in 1988 and received a master's degree in counseling from St. Joseph's in 1991. While an undergraduate at Wesleyan, Sally was a four-year athlete and senior captain on both the cross country and track and field teams. At the end of her college career, she held Wesleyan records in the mile (5:07.3) and the 1500 meters (4:43) and had run a sub-three-hour marathon, among the reasons for her induction into Wesleyan's athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Since 1981, Sally has competed in more than 40 marathons, including the first U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon for women in 1984 in Olympia, Washington, and the 1988 Olympic Trials Marathon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both times, Sally was the top finisher from Connecticut. She competed in the Boston Marathon many times, running her fastest Boston in 1983 with a time of 2:49:53 and earning her best finish of 17th place among women in 1985. Sally's fastest marathon time is 2:44:25 in the Stamford Marathon in 1986, which at that time was the fastest time run by a Connecticut female runner in a Connecticut marathon.
Coach Knight will retire at the end of the school year.