November 13, 2016

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Sgt. York Trophy History/Background

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will keep a piece of bragging rights on campus for another year as the Skyhawks retain the coveted Sgt. York Trophy after earning a share of the 2016 championship.

The trio of UT Martin, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech shared the Sgt. York Trophy after each finishing the season 2-1 against in-state conference foes. This year marks the first time in the trophy’s 10-year history that three teams have shared the championship. After tiebreaker rules (which state the previous winner will retain the trophy if they are part of the tie) UT Martin will keep the traveling trophy for the third-straight year.

The Skyhawks are enjoying a strong season which has the team positioned for their first Ohio Valley Conference championship since 2006 behind a 7-4 overall mark and 6-1 record in conference play. UT Martin boasts one of the nation’s best defenses while leading the league in turnovers gained and interceptions.

The Sgt. York Trophy Presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee goes to the winner of the quadrangular season football series between the four OVC football-playing schools located in the state of Tennessee - Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin.

Three times in the previous nine years of the competition (2007, 2011 and 2012) the championship was shared by two teams.

UT Martin is now 21-9 all-time in Sgt. York games (the best among the four schools). The Skyhawks also shared the title in 2012 and won outright championships in 2010, 2014 and 2015.

The award is only the second traveling trophy that involves more than two teams in college sports; the other is the Commander in Chief's Trophy which has been contested between Air Force, Army and Navy annually since 1972. The award, created in 2007 by the Nashville Sports Council, is presented to the winning institution annually each spring.

The award is named in honor of Alvin C. York, the most noted Soldier of World War I. As a corporal in the 2nd battalion, 328th Infantry, in the Battle of the Meuse River-Argonne (Oct. 8, 1918), York and seven other soldiers captured 132 prisoners, was promoted to sergeant and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the French Legion of Honor, the Croce di Guerra of Italy and the War Medal of Montenegro. Upon his return to the United States in 1919, he was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Following the war York returned his home in Pall Mall, Tenn. (located in north central Tennessee, 55 miles northeast of Cookeville) where he dedicated his life to improving education and facilitating educational opportunities for children in the state of Tennessee. In 1927 he established the Alvin C. York Institute after spending several years raising money for the school which opened as a private institution. That school was established, in part, to provide educational opportunities denied to the boys and girls of Fentress Country. In 1937, the Institute became a state special school after an appeal to the Tennessee State Legislature. The school, located in Jamestown, Tenn., is still in operation today.

York died on Sept. 2, 1964 and the foundation which he helped establish in 1920 - The Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation - was dormant for many years. The Foundation was re-established by Lipscomb Davis, Jr. in 1992 and is currently run by Sgt. York's grandson Gerald (U.S. Army Colonel, Retired). York's papers are archived by Michael E. Birdwell, Ph.D., who is an associate professor of history at Tennessee Technological University, one of the four institutions that competes for the yearly honor.

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