Secret Sauce

April 19, 2016

The MHSAA has appointed a task force to meet throughout 2016 to develop strategies to promote multi-sport participation by student-athletes. In that spirit I have departed from tradition and will be identifying current students by name in this space, approximately once each month, who are the Superstars of Multi-Sport Participation.

Last month (March 11) it was Plainwell High School senior Jessica Nyberg. This month’s “Superstar” is Saugatuck High School junior Blake Dunn, who is on course to earn 16 high school letters ... four years of four sports.

My first thought was that maybe four sports each school year is too many and might get in the way of academics. But Blake is carrying a 3.95 GPA so far; so he appears to have that priority in the right place.

My second thought was that he must be an abnormally large and gifted physical specimen. But no, Blake is a pretty normal 5-11, 180-pounder. It’s hard work that people have described as his secret sauce.

My third thought is that Blake is fortunate to have coaches who will accommodate his passions and be flexible with practice demands so that he can be a part of two teams at the same time during the spring and also during the inevitable overlap of seasons from fall to winter and winter to spring.

School sports is a team sport. It’s adults working together to allow students to learn and grow in a variety of activities. It’s placing adolescents’ needs above adults’ desires, which might be the secret sauce in promoting multi-sport participation.

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.