Editor’s note: The following talk was given by Director of Athletics Mark Conroy at Assembly on September 20, 2019.
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 know that I am incredibly proud of my association with Williston—a place that Mrs. Conroy and I have called home for the past 20 years. We are all so fortunate to be a part of this wonderful school community. From an athletics standpoint, my goodness…we have so much to be proud of and to celebrate. Last year alone Williston athletics had a long list of team and individual accomplishments that were noteworthy—a number of our teams qualified for the NEPSAC postseason tournament, we had many students become NEPSAC individual champions, we had numerous school records set, we had many, many students earn All League, All NEPSAC, Academic All American and even All American recognition, we had a senior class in which 22 signed national letters of intent at Division 1 and 2 schools and over 30 percent of its graduates are off competing in college this year—far exceeding 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 and our commitment each year to doing our best to honor this legacy—specifically our great tradition of sportsmanship.
As most of you know 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 always reflect positively on our great school. Fair or unfair, a school’s reputation or good name is often times 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 New England and hosting schools from all corners of the northeast. 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 187 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. Here are just a few highlights of this code:
- Treat other persons as you know they should be treated, and as you wish them to fairly treat you.
- Treat officials and opponents with respect.
- Accept absolutely and without quarrel the final decision of any official.
- 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.
- Be gracious in victory and defeat; learn especially to take defeat well.
Thanks in advance to everyone for everything we all do individually and as a team to represent Williston so well on the athletic stage. As our school song says “always proud of the green and blue!”