WMU News

WMU and high schools team up for sportsmanship

Sept. 15, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- A total of 240 high school students from the Kalamazoo Valley Athletic Conference will gather on the Western Michigan University campus Friday, Sept. 19, for a summit to enhance sportsmanship.

Directed by Dr. Jody A. Brylinsky, WMU associate professor of health, physical education and recreation, and Dr. Debra S. Berkey, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the event is part of a four-year research project initiated by high school athletic directors and WMU in 1996.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m., students from the eight area high schools will gather at the University Arena in Read Fieldhouse. Activities will get under way at 9 a.m. with a keynote address by Lori Hyman, athletic director of the Dexter Community Schools. Hyman previously served as Ferris State University women's basketball coach and an assistant coach at the University of Illinois. She's also a former Michigan State University basketball player. Hyman will discuss the significance of sportsmanship, particularly as it builds pride and recognition for the school and individual.

From 9:30 a.m. until noon, students will take part in skill-building activities in workshops led by WMU staff, graduate students and guest speakers. Topics will include: how to help coaches, parents and spectators be good sports; how to deal with taunting and trash talk; how to get positive media attention; and how to organize successful pep rallies and assemblies. Students also will meet with WMU athletes to discuss how to be positive role models. After a lunch break, students will rejoin their individual district for a planning session that will involve setting goals for the upcoming year.

"The intent is we don't just talk about sportsmanship, but the students come and they actually build skills that they can go back to their schools and share with their peers," Brylinsky says.

Athletic directors, coaches, parents and athletic boosters and staff members from each of the schools also will attend the conference. However, Brylinsky notes that the primary focus is the students.

"To change the culture you need to work with the people who are in it," she notes. "Having students interact and having this conference being student-driven is just a really positive way to go about making changes. You can preach at people all you want. But until the participants change their attitudes and skills, you don't get real change."

The KVA Conference is made up of eight Southwest Michigan high schools: Delton-Kellogg, Galesburg-Augusta, Hackett Catholic Central, Kalamazoo Christian, Mattawan, Parchment, Paw Paw and Pennfield.

Brylinsky can be reached at her office at 616 387-2677 and Berkey can be reached at her office at 616 387-2705.

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400