Student-athletes from 16 area school districts gathered to learn how to be better leaders on the field, court and wrestling mat during the Student Athlete Leadership Day at Williamsport Area High School Tuesday.
The event featured guest presenter Craig Hillier and his program, "Season of Significance."
Sean McCann, WAHS athletic director, said that this is the first time the area has held a leadership event for its athletes and wanted to give their students an opportunity to learn Hillier's message.
JOSEPH STENDER/ Sun-Gazette
Presenter Craig Hiller, left, discusses traits of leaders during the Student Athlete Leadership Day at Williamsport Area High School. Hillier spoke about setting a good example for students’ teammates.
"Expectations without explanation leads to aspiration," Hillier said.
Hillier, who has been presenting on sports leadership for 22 years and has written two books on the topic, went on to explain that to expect student athletes to become leaders without first teaching them and showing them examples of leadership is not realistic. "We can't expect it without explanation," Hillier said. "We want to teach kids not expect it to go well."
Some athletic directors are hoping that the event will turn into a leadership program at their schools.
Kevin Steele, East Lycoming athletic director, said he wanted to bring his athletes to "help create team leaders." He said he chose to bring all underclassman who are involved in at least two sports.
Steele said the participants from his district not only will teach their teammates but the younger students in the junior high program.
Students performed different exercises to show important lessons. From writing their name backwards with the opposite hand to discussing their goals with those from other schools, the participants were constantly learning to stretch a little further.
"Hopefully, through athletics, ... we're hoping they learn these lessons," McCann said.
With athletes from different schools, some who compete against each other, Hillier said he wanted to "break down the wall," between all of the participants. He did this by having them play games together and sit in small groups and discuss different topics.
"Just because you're from another school doesn't make you a jerk," he said.
Mikayla Bower, a sophomore softball player from Williamsport, said it's different to interact with those from other schools off the field.
"As an athlete you see your competition a lot differently on the field," she said.
The interactions also help students learn from each other.
"Bringing them here lets them learn from other kids, too," said Evelyn Wynn, Montoursville athletic director.
Hillier added that it's important for the students to be at the event because it shows them they can be leaders even without being a team captain. He said it's more about the will than the athlete's skill.
"I'll take a kid that has the will any day and we'll work on the skill," Hillier said.
Steele said that's how he went about choosing the participants from his district.
"We didn't pick the team captains ... but kids we could see developing into leaders," Steele said.
But Hillier added that being leader goes "beyond the sport."
"I'd like them to take it back not only to their team but to the classroom," Steele said.
McCann said the lessons the students learn are ones they can use in every part of their lives, not only on the sports field.
Hillier taught the students that being leader starts first with themselves and how they conduct themselves.
Bower agreed, saying that she learned how important it is to hold herself to a high standard.
"That leadership makes you have high expectations of setting the example for others," she said.