By Joe Clark and Jaron May, HockomockSports.com Student Reporters
Behind all of the great competition that happens in the Hockomock League, there are some amazing students, coaches and athletic directors that embody the values of sportsmanship, leadership and teamwork. These influential people all came together on Wednesday at Oliver Ames High School for the the Hockomock League’s Captains Conference for 2016/2017 Winter and Spring Sports.
Over 500 Hockomock captains listened to messages that stressed the importance of leadership and sportsmanship in athletics by having students participate in group activities, listening to a guest speaker, and talking to other captains about effective leadership.
The day began with the theme of leadership. To start, the captains were challenged with a simple, yet thought-provoking request – to find the best quote that defines leadership. While making the rounds, there were many worthy quotes that defined what a leader is, the most popular being John C. Maxwell’s “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
After some friendly competition to see who had the best quote, the captains moved on to play some Hockomock sports trivia, with some random facts thrown in as well. The first round tested their knowledge of the names of Hockomock schools’ sports facilities, such as Macktaz Field and James Albertini Gym.
When talking to some of the captains, they all said that they really enjoyed this part of the day. They thought it was not only a fun and exciting activity, but it also allowed them to interact and bond with the captains from other schools at their table, which was one of the main goals of the day.
Stoughton Athletic Director Ryan Donahue, who emceed the majority of the event, said that the event was not only about teaching the captains how to lead, but also to help meet one another.
“It’s tough being a captain,” Donahue said. “It’s not always going to be an easy job. So, when you’re traveling to a different school, it feels great when you walk into a building and someone you spent a day with and got to know over the course of the day is one of the first hands reaching to welcome you to the town.”
The morning session was followed up with a moving keynote speech given by Ed Gerety.
Ed Gerety, an entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, has spoken to students and educators from middle school all the way up to the college level, presenting to top colleges such as Fordham University, Northwestern University, and the University of Southern California. Gerety’s presentation included partner activities, stories from his experiences as a high school athlete himself and as a speaker, and a section where students wrote a letter to a loved one.
Gerety got into motivational speaker as he was involved in a lot of student leadership programs growing up, and “always had an interest around motivation and personal development.” He also attributes some of his “great coaches and teachers that were very inspiring” for helping him get to where he is today. The most important thing he wants students to take away from his program is “to live every day with gratitude and to live every day with a great sense of appreciation.”
Nick Lurie, a captain for Milford lacrosse, found Gerety’s presentation to be inspiring.
“He inspired me to become a better person and to do more in my life so I will be happier with my life when I am older,” Lurie added.
Arianna Sternburg, a Sharon cheer captain said that Gerety’s presentation helped her learn “to be positive and to surround myself with positive people and be thankful for my family.”
Jordan Brill-Cass, a track captain for Mansfield plans to take Gerety’s lessons to help her become a better captain by “not only focusing on my own races but focusing on my team’s races and making sure that I support them and helping us be strong together.”
Foxboro track and cross country captain Tyler Donovan summed up his experience by saying he learned “how to better inspire people and help them do their best.”
“He’s a special guy, he just has this internal energy,” Donahue said. “The message that he sends is spot on with what we want to tell our captains.”
The captains then ate a quick lunch and got right back into their work. They started the afternoon learning about social media and how it can be used both in a positive and negative way. With social media and the Internet being such an influential aspect of our lives right now, Donahue and the other ADs stressed the importance of smart social media habits.
The conference concluded with fan and spectator behavior. This last topic is an extremely important part to the Hockomock’s success according to Donahue.
“[The Hock is] the best top to bottom league not just talent wise, but people, individuals, and sportsmanship in the Commonwealth.
“This is one of my favorite events of the year. It is a great opportunity to create some dialogue between the captains amongst each other, and then coaches and AD’s as well. It’s a date to circle on my calendar each year,” Donahue added.
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