PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Missy West, a three-sport standout during her high school career in New York, was inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame on Sunday.
She gave a speech on behalf of her fellow inductees that reflected on the importance activities made in their lives, and touched how they shape to develop young students.
It was a speech that really hit on everything that's important about participation in high school activities.
"We can't lose sight of what it means to be part of a team within a community — and I'm not referring to a wrestling team, or a baseball team, I mean the high school experience team that entails all extracurricular activities, including music and art and theatre and debate teams, and so many more," West said. "Our high school experience has led us to incredible places, being able to interact with extraordinary people, and has opened the doors into our futures and our careers."
She also spoke about the importance of community, about being a multisport athlete, and about activities' ability to develop future leaders.
We've excerpted part of it here:
[Fellow inductee] Bill [Laude] told me that his state association in Illinois has a slogan that refers to sports and activities as the "other half" of education. I think we all can agree with this statement, just by reflecting back on our own lives, the lessons that we have all learned from our own participation goes far beyond just the game itself. In fact, it helped shape who we were, the friends we chose, the decision to go to college, and for many of us, it even led to career paths offering us the opportunity to give back and reteach all the life lessons that we learned at such a fragile time in our own lives.
This other half of education taught us about work ethic and dedication and what it means to set a goal and achieve it together as a team. It helps us excel academically and held us accountable in the classroom, and commit ourselves to education so we could go out and impact the world.
When I look at our inductees tonight, I recognize that we come with our own unique high school experiences: different times, and different places. However we are united in agreement that a positive high school experience can be a game-changer in our children's lives as it was for us. Today, some of the magic of high school experience is competing with cellphones, and text messages and social media. ...
I would like to see us really hold on to that community feel that the high school experience was, and should be.
In the spirit of the good old days, I would like to see us encourage our children to participate in a variety of activities in those developing years. Most of our inductee class, including myself, participated in multiple sports in our youth, which allowed for greater exposure to our own skill sets. Different coaches, different teammates, different experiences. Through this exposure, it gave us opportunity to be resilient and tenacious, which built our self-esteem and our confidence.
Robert Zayas, who is the executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, told me the other day that high school participation is a leadership laboratory where we learn how to fail, we learn to overcome adversity, and we learn how to rise above.
I recently joined up with the Positive Coaching Alliance, and soon will be out in our school systems educating our coaches and our parents that sports simply is not just about the game, or what the scoreboard reads. It's about developing better people, better citizens, who can go out and positively impact our world in which we live.
Instead of pressuring our children to win, why don't we be great role models and encourage them to have fun? To give their best effort, and to be respectful of their teammates, their opponents, their coaches and the officials?
I learned through the PCA that 70 percent of our youth are dropping out of sports by the age of 13. This certainly is a frightening percentage. We need to be encouraging our people to stay involved, especially in the moments when it gets hard and things don't go their way.
We can't lose sight of what it means to be part of a team within a community — and I'm not referring to a wrestling team, or a baseball team, I mean the high school experience team, that entails all extracurricular activities, including music and art and theatre and debate teams, and so many more.
Our high school experience has led us to incredible places, being able to interact with extraordinary people, and has opened the doors into our futures and our careers. I was just a young kid from the village of Malone, two miles from the Canadian border, but it was that village, that team at Franklin Academy, that built me.
Watch Missy West's whole speech on the NFHS Network, along with the rest of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.