Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Respect, loyalty on agenda at fall meeting

August 22, 2007

In preparation for the 2007 fall sports season, the Tonganoxie High athletics department held a meeting Aug. 8 for students and parents of the football, volleyball, boys soccer and cross county teams.

The meeting, which was held at the Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center, featured a speech by Rob Miller of the National Association of Intercollegiate athletics. Miller gave two Champions of Character speeches -- one to the students and a separate one to the parents.

Miller has toured around the country giving Champions of Character speeches since 2002. Aug. 8 was the first time Miller gave a speech at Tonganoxie.

"The question I asked when I got here -- and I do it every place I go -- was, 'Tell me about your athletes. Tell me about your kids,'" Miller said. "I say that off the cuff to hear the response I get. And the response I got here you could go two months without getting. The response was, 'We have great kids.' With great kids, you have a chance to have a great team."

Miller's speeches lasted about 30 minutes a piece. With the students, he talked about ways they could be good teammates, on and off the field. With the parents, Miller talked about effective ways to support their children before, during and after the games.

"A team or an athlete isn't anything based on skill; it's based on what choices do kids make on effort and behavior," Miller said. "(Atlanta Falcons quarterback) Michael Vick, for example, has a lot of talent, but he made a horrible choice to be a teammate. It comes down to choices. That's what you excel at to become a great teammate."

Senior linebacker Wesley Armstrong attended the speech. He said he took so much from Miller he wished he could have spoken for a longer period of time.

"If I had to take one thing from his speech, I'd say it was the points about respect," Armstrong said. "Having respect for your coaches and looking them in the eye when they talk to you. Not looking down and disrespecting them by walking away. If I see that happening, I'm going to try to help out."

Senior outside hitter Sami Franiuk said after the speech, she came away with concepts she may not have thought about before attending.

"When I listened to him talk, I re-evaluated our team and myself as a team player," Franiuk said. "The respect was a really strong point. I think we need to start showing our teammates a little bit more respect and come together as one strong team."

Before Miller presented, a Tonganoxie video tribute played for the students.

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