Students learn values of sportsmanship at WPIAL’s 10th annual Summit

Thursday, November 15, 2018 | 4:03 PM


Even on the gloomiest of days, the WPIAL Sportsmanship Summit can provide a glimmer of sunlight.

Nearly 600 student-athletes and administrators from about 100 schools were represented Thursday morning at the 10th annual Summit on Sportsmanship at the Sen. John Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

A number of students had registered for the event but could not attend because of weather delays in their communities and related school policies, according to WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley.

But for the many who accepted the challenge of navigating through the weather, the high schoolers also accepted the challenge of making sportsmanship a major part of their school’s athletic programs.

It was an enjoyable experience for Penn-Trafford swimmer Luke Babik.

“I love it,” said Babik, a senior. “I like being with athletes from other schools in a setting where we’re not competitive.”

Besides a number of speeches from well-known figures such as former Steelers lineman Chris Hoke, the students alternated between answering a sportsmanship questionnaire and touring part of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

The questionnaire’s topic was five good deeds of game day.

A representative of each school’s delegation stepped to the podium and told what their school was doing to foster sportsmanship.

Students spoke of who they want to thank before or after a game, cleaning up after yourself, how to pick someone up, complimenting someone and how to be better than anyone else.

Shaler Area wrestler Brian Sullivan advised athletes to “keep yourself positive at all times.”

Record-setting Sto-Rox quarterback Eric Wilson told the gathering not to hesitate “to check on an injured opposing player.”

The delegation from St. Joseph said their teams for road games like to “leave the locker room in pristine condition.”

Some athletes said they make it a point to thank the custodians for getting the fields ready for play, as well as the equipment managers and athletic trainers.

Three WPIAL schools were recipients of the PIAA Sportsmanship Award this year — Hampton, Yough and West Allegheny.

Those schools were presented with banners to be hung in their respective gyms.

Hoke, an undrafted free agent who sat on the Steelers bench for three years before getting his big shot, advised students to “look to improve yourselves and be a great influence to those around you.”

Added Hoke: “You don’t fail until you give up.”

Anne Madarasz of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum said her job daily is “to deal with the past. But I look out there and see the future in you. Remember how you want to be looked at in the future and think of the positive actions you can take.”

Former West Allegheny and Pitt standout athlete Dorin Dickerson recalled advice his uncle gave him: “Don’t belittle; be big instead.”

Dickerson reflected on his playing days in college and the NFL and influences such as Larry Fitzgerald, West Allegheny coach Bob Palko and former West Allegheny and Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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