Nearly 30 Michigan high schools sent 220 student-athletes to Saginaw Valley State University yesterday to participate in the MHSAA Saginaw Sportsmanship Summit. Students spent the day discussing sportsmanship and ways to promote healthy competition within their sports.
“It was great. Any time we can get kids together to talk about anything, I think it’s a good day. They get to see each other off the court before they see each other on the court,” Andy Frushour said. “It was nice that most of the BWAC was there represented. A lot of those kids I know recognize each other from all the games they play against each other, so it was nice to put them all in the same room.”
Frushour is the MHSAA Senior Assistant Director of Brand Management and was in charge of this year's event. He said the overall goal is to give students the opportunity to not only hear and tell stories of great sportsmanship, but to also give them time to discuss and think of ways to promote and implement it within their own teams and schools.
Andrew Sniesak is a senior at Armada High School who plays soccer and basketball and runs track. He attended the summit with five fellow Tigers and said he was grateful for the opportunity to go. One of his biggest takeaways was regarding respect for everyone involved in athletics.
“Everyone’s human and everyone makes mistakes whether it’s a ref, another player, or a parent,” Sniesak said. “The biggest thing is to just have respect and have fun while playing because you only get to do it for four years, so you might as well enjoy it.”
To promote a higher level of respect, he said his group discussed options for a new motto for the Armada student section.
“We were trying to implement a motto for our school for everyone to have respect the whole game,” he said. “We came up with a couple of mottos to market in practice, they weren’t great, but the one we’re really trying to get across and promote is: be respectful, be supportive, be encouraging, and have fun during the sporting events.”
Junior Riley Robertson plays volleyball, basketball, and softball at Croswell-Lexington High School and she also attended the event with a few of her classmates. She said she wanted to go because she thinks sportsmanship is an important topic in any sport and she wants to help make the Pioneers stand out in a positive way.
“I definitely enjoyed the time there and my group feels it was a very useful conference. We went through different stations, talking with other athletes in Michigan about the sportsmanship of athletes, student sections, parents, and everyone’s attitudes towards refs,” Robertson said. “In these stations we came up with ideas on how to engage athletes, students, and parents in a way to encourage good sportsmanship. We also had good conversations over ways we can implement rules or formats to increase the amount of refs who will enjoy being there.”
Both Robertson and Sniesak said there was an emphasis on referees as the number of officials involved in high school athletes continues to decline. They said they hope they’ll be able to help their teams make games a more enjoyable experience for officials. Sniesak said he has even signed up to referee middle school boys and girls basketball games this winter.
This was the first time since 2019 the MHSAA has been able to host the summit that’s been happening for the last 20 years. Frushour said it serves as a great start to the upcoming winter sports seasons.
“It’s a good energy any time you get all the kids together,” he said. “We get them thinking about ideas they can take back to their school and implement immediately or before the winter sports season, so that’s the big goal…The kids have great ideas, it’s just a matter of getting them to focus, write things down, and follow through.”
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