Respect is a given at the MIT Jets and their 2023 recognition is all the affirmation they need to continue highlighting what is a key aspect of junior rugby league.
The club is an amalgamation of three junior entities - Millmerran, Inglewood and Texas - playing in the Warwick and District competition under a committee of Inglewood-based Penney and her partner Andrew Hickey, the president and under 10s coach, and Texas-based secretary Shannon Teese.
The Jets were one of four clubs chosen as champions of Respect Round in May, alongside Tenterfield Tigers, Narangba Rangers and Sarina Crocodiles.
These clubs, who have earned $500 vouchers to the QRL equipment hub, demonstrated via social media their efforts to bring opposing teams and officials together through initiatives such as pre-game and post-game handshakes, positive pep talks and team-based positive reinforcement.
MIT Jets treasurer Penney Hickey said the aim of the club was to make sure the kids in teams between under 6 to under 12, as well as under 15 girls league tag, had fun and played the game in the right spirit.
"I think (Respect Round) came part and parcel with what we're trying do with all our players, with our good sportsmanship and stuff like that, respecting our other players and respecting our refs, especially our new refs that have come on board," Hickey said.
The club has put an emphasis on educating players, volunteers and parents on the lessons of the Positive Environment Program, and this year had seven people put their hand up for a referees' course.
"It's not all about winning and you try and get that culture out of the kids too because there's so much pressure on kids to win, win, win all the time," Hickey said.
"Like it's nice to win, but it's nice to let everybody have a go too, to learn skills and not just have your best players on the field all the time."
Opposition teams have noticed the culture too. Earlier in the season the Jets received a trophy for the sportsmanship at the Manktelow Challenge in Pittsworth.
"I actually cried when we got that," Hickey said.
"We weren't going to stay around, so I said to all the kids that what we're staying around because that's good sportsmanship. Whether we get anything or not, we still stay till the end.
"And we got announced with it and we just couldn't believe it.
"We lost every game in the two days, but there was 15 teams there and all the 15 teams voted for us."
The club usually gets by on grants to help with travel costs to give the kids the best experiences they can in the game, making a $500 voucher to spend on equipment a godsend.
Hickey said the club would look at items such as tackle bags, agility posts and fitness gear among other things to get set up for 2024.