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UP Power

About five hours after leaving the Michigan High School Athletic Association office building late in October, I pulled into the parking lot of Munising High School on the edge of Lake Superior. It was just after 7 pm on this Thursday evening, I saw that there were many cars in the parking lot, and I guessed that there was a high school volleyball game about to be played.

Indeed. It was the last regular season match of the season, and senior night. I was greeted warmly by the match referee and the school's two veteran administrators. And one of Munising's senior players, a member of the MHSAA Student Advisory Council, interrupted her warmups to jog over to welcome me. After the match, we hugged and posed for pictures together. Between the greeting and the posing, I enjoyed a marvelous evening of educational athletics.

There was plenty of cheering, and never a "boo." Not once did I hear a complaint about officiating. In fact, on two occasions the Munising coach corrected officials' calls that resulted in a point being awarded to his opponent.

For a time, every player on the floor for Munising had played more than one sport that season. Every one of the six played tennis as well as volleyball, and one of them also ran cross country this season. At the same time, the other team's participants included two girls who were also playing on their school's 8-player football team this past season.

Here the multi-sport student-athlete is not an endangered species; it's an essential fact of life. Here a school sports event draws the community together in good spirit and sportsmanship. Here is the power of school sports.

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.