Sportsmanship the Foundation of Wildcat Pride

Editor’s note: Director of Athletics Mark Conroy made these remarks at Assembly on September 26, 2018.

Good morning everyone. If we haven’t had a chance to meet, I am Mr. Conroy and the school’s Director of Athletics. I wanted to take just a moment this morning to speak to you briefly about a topic that is very, very important to me and to our entire community. Those of you who know me know well that I am incredibly proud of my association with Williston—a place that Mrs. Conroy and I have called home for the past 19 years. We are all so fortunate to be a part of this wonderful school community.

From an athletics standpoint, we have so much to be proud of. Just last year Williston athletics had a long list of accomplishments that were noteworthy—a number of our teams qualified for the NEPSAC postseason tournament (field hockey, boys and girls ice hockey, boys and girls basketball, boys tennis just to name a few), we had many students become New England individual champions, we had a team crowned NEPSAC champions for the third year in a row, we had numerous school records set, we had many, many students earn All League, All New England, Academic All American and even All American recognition, and finally, we had a senior class in which over 30 percent of its graduates are off competing in college this year—far, far above the national average.

While we should all take great pride in these wonderful accomplishments, for me personally, they are not what I am most proud of in terms of our athletic program. I am most proud of the legacy that we have all inherited here at Williston—specifically our great tradition of sportsmanship.

This tradition of sportsmanship has two dimensions that are equally important. The first dimension is related to the manner in which our teams and individuals represent Williston always being mindful that our actions on the field of play should reflect positively on our great school. Fair or unfair, a school’s reputation or good name is oftentimes derived from its athletic program because athletics are played on such a public stage. Imagine this: in this year alone, Williston will compete in over 600 contests, traveling throughout the New England and hosting schools from all corners of New England. The second dimension of sportsmanship is our ability as a community to be a respectful host of our opponents as spectators.

At Williston, we take great pride in our school spirit as we look to inspire our teams to play their hearts out rather than look for opportunities to antagonize, demean or disrespect the performance of our opponents. My personal philosophy is that we all should strive to make certain that competition brings out the best in all of us not the worst. Both of these elements of sportsmanship can best be summarized in a short phrase that is at the core of who we are as a community: “respect for self and others.”

Many of you know that Williston is a member of NEPSAC, the New England Prep School Athletic Council, an association of nearly 200 independent schools throughout New England.  One of my obligations as a member of this association is to remind us all about NEPSAC’s code of ethics that all member schools are expected to abide by. Fortunately for us, this code is absolutely consistent with our approach to sportsmanship.

NEPSAC Code of Ethics and Conduct
As a basic principle, we believe that the lessons learned from fairly played athletics, whether interscholastic or not, and including games and practices, are of benefit to our students and our schools. The purpose of this Code of Ethics and Conduct is to define what “fairly played” means and to provide guidelines for NEPSAC athletes, coaches, officials and spectators alike to follow.

  1. Treat other persons as you know they should be treated, and as you wish them to fairly treat you.
  2. Regard the rules of your game as agreements, the spirit or letter of which you should not evade or break.
  3. Treat officials and opponents with respect.
  4. Accept absolutely and without quarrel the final decision of any official.
  5. Honor visiting teams and spectators as your own guests and treat them as such. Likewise, yourself behave as an honored guest when you visit another school.
  6. Be gracious in victory and defeat; learn especially to take defeat well.
  7. Be as cooperative as you are competitive.
  8. Remember that your actions on and off the field reflect on you and your school.

Have fun and go wildcats!