Brilliant Blend

May 24, 2016

This month’s featured multi-sport student-athlete is well known to the Michigan High School Athletic Association staff, having served for two years on the MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council.

Greta Wilker is concluding her senior year at Belding High School. She’s Valedictorian, and will have earned 16 varsity letters by the time she wears her graduation cap and gown.

Greta is Sports Illustrated’s Athlete-of-the-Month for May, and she is brilliant in SI’s video tribute.

Her softball coach, whom she calls her “second mom,” has helped Greta learn how to move seamlessly from mistakes to successes. An art teacher has taught her that excellence, not perfection, is the healthier life goal.

But from all we have seen and heard, perfection is the word that comes to mind when reviewing the kind of experience school sports has provided Greta. Not every contest was a victory; not every season was a championship. It has been a brilliant blend of successes and failures and wins and losses that work together in school sports to help form healthy, happy adults.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.