By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The first, largest and longest-running program of its type in the country, the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Women In Sports Leadership Conference will take place Feb. 7-8 at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West.
The 22nd edition of the conference will feature three keynote speakers and a variety of workshops. The program annually attracts upwards of 500 participants, most of them high school female student-athletes. High school students, coaches and administrators are invited to register on the MHSAA Website.
Cost is $50 for students and $60 for adults, not including lodging for those intending to stay overnight in Lansing. A registration form for lodging also is available on the MHSAA Website.
The theme for this WISL Conference is “Lead: I Can & I Will” – and the opening address by U.S. Olympian Allison Schmitt will focus on believing in oneself and achieving goals. Schmitt graduated from Canton High School in 2008 and went on to win 11 NCAA Division I championships at the University of Georgia and a combined six medals over the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, including individual gold in the 200-meter freestyle in 2012 in London. She also experienced depression after her second Olympics, and now speaks on the subject and how she’s worked to compete again at the elite level.
Former University of Michigan basketball player Nicole Emblad – a two-time Academic All-American now studying at the university’s medical school – will speak on the role of a leader and the importance of teamwork and team-building at the WISL Banquet during the evening of Feb. 7. After a standout basketball career at St. Ignace that included leading her team to the Class C title in 2011, Emblad was a two-time captain for the Wolverines and graduated as the program’s career leader with 133 games played with 82 wins. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience.
Michigan State University women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant will speak on leading through “Vision, Values, Voice” during the morning of Feb. 8. Merchant is in her ninth season at MSU after previously coaching at Eastern Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University and serving as a captain while a player at Central Michigan. Merchant has led the Spartans to Big Ten Conference titles in 2010-11 and 2013-14 and finishes of third place or higher in six of the last seven seasons. She earned a bachelor’s degree at CMU and a master’s at SVSU after starring in three sports at Traverse City High School.
Workshops offered during the conference include topics on coaching, teaching and learning leadership, sports nutrition and injury prevention, promoting team chemistry, multi-sport participation and the roles and responsibilities of captains. A complete itinerary is available on the MHSAA Website.
The WISL Banquet will include the presentation of this year’s Women In Sports Leadership Award. The winner will be announced later this month.
Follow the #WISL hashtag on Twitter to learn more about the conference’s activities.