University High Athletic Director Mark Cunningham has been named a 2009-10 CIF Model Coach Award winner – a distinction earned by only 13 coaches in the state. The California Interscholastic Federation's Model Coach Award program annually honors coaches who have served as positive role models and exhibited the traits outlined in the CIF's 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor. Nominees for the award were selected through their local CIF Section offices. Each winner will ultimately be recognized at their sport’s state championship or at an event of the recipient’s choosing. According to the CIF, a model coach exhibits and teaches six core ethical values, also known as the Six Pillars of Character. They are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship. “This is the highest and most prestigious award the CIF bestows upon its coaches,” CIF Executive Director Marie M. Ishida said. Cunningham coaches both football and track at Uni. Here’s what the organization said about him in its news release:
It is ironic that the six pillars of Pursuing Victory with Honor are more often seen in defeat rather than in victory. Mark Cunningham’s Trojans of University High School did not have a stellar season on the playing field, but that did not prevent Cunningham from leading his young men with dignity. No matter the final score, Coach Cunningham demonstrated a respect for the game to which all should aspire. No moment demonstrates this more than in the final game of the season. Cunningham created an opportunity to honor Terry Henigan, the soon-to-be-retired head coach of rival Irvine High School. The Trojans did not win the game that night, but Coach Cunningham managed to teach his players what honor is.