Countryside Montessori recently was recognized by the Charlotte Gastonia Athletic Association for its outstanding athletic achievement in the 2010-11 year.The Mustangs were named winners of the annual CGAA Sportsmanship Award, which is presented to a member school whose fans, coaches and players display outstanding sportsmanship throughout the school year.The award was created three years ago and is given annually to one of the 12 CGAA member schools."It is quite an honor to be chosen by your peers," said Mustang Athletic Director Nick Nichols. "I am both honored and humbled that Countryside Montessori is the recipient of the sportsmanship award from the CGAA for the 2010-2011 school year."The award is another sign of how far Countryside is progressing and how it has done things the right way.Countryside only recently hired Chuck Nusinov as head of school, and its first class of seniors will graduate this year; but sportsmanship and respect have always been the Mustangs' foundation, something they pride themselves on and build the sports programs around.The CGAA is a middle school conference that provides student-athletes a variety of sports including soccer, golf, baseball, cross-country, tennis, basketball, volleyball and more. The association was created for students from smaller private, parochial, charter and Montessori schools, to provide an avenue for them to compete against similar-size schools.Countryside, like many other CGAA schools, often has to pull kids from various grade levels to field a team. Some teams are co-ed.A typical CGAA middle-school tennis team may have third-grade girls playing with fifth-grade boys, but the CGAA gives all the kids something they want: A chance to play.The CGAA also has guidelines in place to assure fair play and equal competition - the association's founding principles - and governs the play of local schools.Countryside, like many CGAA members, does not have facilities for all of its athletic teams.The Mustangs do not have an on-campus soccer field, for example, but the CGAA allows them to play home games at Mallard Creek Park.By earning the 2011 CGAA Sportsmanship Award, the Mustangs further cement their place as an up-and-coming school.Countryside and its developing sports programs should be the model other member schools follow.