DELPHOS — Last fall, the Northwest Conference and its then-senior and junior student-athletes and administrators met to discuss the idea of sportsmanship both on and off the field for its members and fans, coming up with the motto “1 Conference; 10 Teams; 1 Goal; Sportsmanship.”
Friday morning/afternoon at the Delphos Eagles Lodge, the league — with its current senior and junior student-athletes — met to continue to implement that idea in another area: charity.
Delphos man Rusty Thompson, a member of the training and development staff of the agribusiness giant Syngenta North America, spoke to the 100-plus students and administrators about “Leadership and what it means.”
He spoke about perspective and offered a brief overview and understanding of some leadership basics and how each of these fundamentals can be applied in this specific circumstance.
He focused on the characteristics of a leader: by example; positive and encouraging, yet also realistic; open to new ideas, able to communicate and able to adjust; having a vision and being driven and outgoing to see it through; being honest, having integrity and conscientious; self-aware and able to keep commitments; and taking the blame and sharing the glory.
He quoted current Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino: “To be a great leader is to make everyone better. That’s the greatest gift of all. To elevate the people around you, to get them to maximize their potential, to get them to reach their dreams ... Ultimately, leaders are judged by the success of the people they lead.”
He also used quotes from former New York Jets’ superstar quarterback Joe Namath, the late US General/President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former major-leaguer Jason Giambi, late football coaching legend Vince Lombardi and late US President/Senator John Quincy Adams in regards to how leaders inspire others to achieve greater than they thought possible.
Jefferson High School Principal John Edinger, the host of the meeting, explained why the idea of charity was brought into the equation.
“Last year, we came up with the motto of ‘1 Conference; 10 Teams; 1 Goal; Sportsmanship.’ That is in every gymnasium — a smaller version — and kids go in there and can say they were part of putting that together,” Edinger acknowledged. “This year, we wanted to talk about taking that attitude off the court/field and into charity. The kids here are meeting as groups — each table has a mix of students representing all 10 — to discuss what charity(ies) we want to support as a conference and how we want to approach it. It’s mostly going to be raising funds for now but how we do that: raffles, ticket sales, other ways; and do we want to make this something that schools rotate between themselves weekly, monthly, at the same time or what. We want to take the lessons we are trying to instill in the athletic arena and applying it to life.
“We hope that the kids can make that decision — we want them to take responsibility for this, as they did last year — today and we can have this in place by basketball season. If not, I’ll take all that gets put together, e-mail it to the other schools and let them continue the discussion until we get it done.”
This is hoped to be the first step, in the eyes of Edinger.
“I would like to see it advance to volunteering at a soup kitchen, for example, that a school’s athletes would take a certain week or a combined group of athletes doing so. That is down the road,” he added.