Students learn leadership at 13th annual WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 6:18 PM


Becoming role models and difference-makers at your school and community was the theme of the 13th annual WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit on Wednesday at the Heinz History Center and Sports Museum.

At least four students from 62 high schools attended the event and listened to numerous speakers urging them to create change and promote good sportsmanship.

WPIAL executive director Scott Seltzer served as host to his first conference and told the audience to have a “We” attitude.

“You want to care for one another and be compassionate for one another,” Seltzer said. “It’s pretty simple. There are a lot of things that make us the same for what we have in common. And if we focus on what we have in common, we can actually have a we attitude.

“You have to be willing to turn the page. Bad things are going to happen in life, but you have to be able to focus on the present and being present because you can’t go back. Sometimes you’re thinking about that last play that you may or someone screwed up and you screw up again because you have a negative mindset.”

One of the biggest things to focus on, he told them, is how things can change in your high school.

“If someone is sitting alone at lunch, join them,” Seltzer said. “You have that opportunity and power.”

Basketball official Paul Skirtich talked about being a difference-maker in a team sport.

“There are four things that make your team,” Skirtich said. “Preparation, sharing, sacrifice and persevering. Those things build character within a team. You are our future, and doing those things will make you successful.”

Brian Gulish, vice president of marketing and communications of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, talked about the success and hard work of several schools in the WPIAL Food and Fund Drive.

He awarded six schools banners for being the top of the classifications. The winners were: 6A: Seneca Valley (11,375.65 meals); 5A: Armstrong (12,391.75); 4A: Knoch (2,177.5); 3A: Mohawk (5,847.5); 2A: Winchester Thurston (8,613.75); A: Redeemer Lutheran (2,793.25).

“It was an interesting presentation about sportsmanship,” Derry senior Hunter Jurica said. “It’s definitely something I’ll remember.”

Added Canon-McMillan junior Mason Williams: “That sportsmanship and being part of something is really important and I’ll try to pass it on to my teammates and classmates.”

David Hunter, speaking on behalf of the WPIAL Equity Council for Diversity and Inclusion, talked about working together to build strong relationships, and Gregg Behr, the executive director of Grable Foundation, spoke about building positive habits. Roberto Clemente Jr. talked about the legacy his late father, former Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente, left all over the world and how special he was to President Barack Obama and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

“It was a really nice experience,” Southmoreland senior Kaleb Tkacs said. “I got to learn a bit more about what we as students should be doing and being role models at the school and being leaders of sportsmanship.”

Fox Chapel junior Lila Valkanas said: “It’s important to take away that when you are a leader on the field, you are there for your whole team. Once you leave the field, you have to be a leader for yourself and everyone outside of your team.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are, you have to be a leader for all. You all are together.”

The WPIAL also announced the Sportsmanship winners: Beaver, Hampton, Ligonier Valley, Penn-Trafford and Saint Joseph.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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