Competitors collaborate on leadership

Summit makes profound impact on North Shore Conference athletes
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

For a few hours last month, North Shore Conference student athletes didn’t try to tackle each other, strike each other out, block one another’s shots or outrace each other.

Athletes gathered in a friendly format to hear about leadership from national speaker Craig Hiller at a sportsmanship summit in the Chandelier Ballroom in Hartford on Nov. 11.

Several Grafton and Port Washington high school athletes took back valuable advice they can impart to their teammates that applies to sports and other facets of life.

“I learned a lot about how to lead by example. If you want your team to do something, then you have to be that way too,” Grafton sophomore Michael McNabb, Jr. said.

Grafton junior Chase Norton said he learned when leadership counts.

“It’s easy to be a leader when everything’s good but it’s hard when it’s bad,” he said, adding leaders help those who need it.

“You can’t really leave a man behind,” he said.

An idea about captains resonated with Port Washington junior Alena Schlenvogt and sophomore Samatha Bennett and Grafton sophomores Savannah James and Sarah Aleknavicius.

“Not all leaders are captains and not all captains are leaders, and that was something that was important because here we vote on our captains so we get to choose who we do think are leaders but most schools might not have that,” James said.

“Anyone can be a leader on a team. Age doesn’t necessarily matter. Technically, underclassmen can be leaders,” Aleknavicius said.

Leaders, Schlenvogt learned, don’t have to be at the top of their respective sports.

“You don’t have to be the best to be a leader. Helping others is a main thing, and helping others be their best,” she said.

Developing a welcoming atmosphere is also important.

“You’ve got to learn your team is like a second family to you,” Schlenvogt said. “Sure, there’s going to be ups and downs like there always is in families, but in the end you’re still together and friends.”

Bennett agreed that the team atmosphere is vital.

“It’s not always about the sport and winning. At the end of the day, it’s more of a game. It’s for fun. I think a lot of people forget that. It’s just high school sports, so you’ve got to find some fun in it,” she said.

Icebreaker activities in groups comprised of students from different schools — that was by design — helped the teenagers get to know their rivals on a different level and share expertise.

“It was really nice getting to know a lot of kids from other schools and from other sports and just seeing how they feel about it and how they show leadership in their sports and how I can do that in my sport too,” Grafton junior Libby Michel said. “I’m really excited for next year, and I feel like I’m coming into next year with more knowledge on how to be a better leader.”

“They said don’t see your opponents as enemies, just as opponents,” Grafton senior Ashley Weir said.

“It was actually pretty fun seeing people you play against but are pretty fun to be with,” James said.

Grafton High School Athletic Director Kevin Moore said this is the second time the NSC held the event. The first one was in the same location in 2019.

The summit was another opportunity to learn about sportsmanship, Moore said. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association holds sportsmanship summits, but not every year.

“We wanted something for our students in those years in between,” Moore said. “It’s a great chance for kids in the North Shore Conference to come together.”

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