Canton High School senior Sara Teague was among four members of the MIAA Student Advisory Committee honored at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro that featured New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and several keynote speakers. The "Promoting Student Leadership Opportunities in Your School" program honored students for achievements in leadership and sports.
Teague said her cross-country coach had told her about the advisory committee. "Student leaders go far beyond athletes," she said. "You just have to find them."
Teague said among Canton High's community service projects is Christmas in the City. Students take the bus to Boston and do "simple, simple things," such as hosting a dinner for people in homeless shelters, she said.
The students were honored Friday during the 17th Annual MIAA/MSSADA Sportsmanship Summit, held in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium's Fidelity Investments Clubhouse. The MIAA is the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The MSSADA is the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association.
MIAA Deputy Director William Gaine Jr. recalled that in late November of 1994, more than 350 principals and athletic directors had a two-day discussion about an issue that was "creeping into athletic competition within our state."
The meeting led to developing a long-term comprehensive plan to "change these attitudes" to promote respect, Gaine said. "We all need to practice our leadership skills, and today is a great step to doing just that."
Keynote speaker Nina Van Erk urged the students to "take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. By being here today, you did take advantage of an opportunity," said Van Erk, president of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Community service is "a way to give back. Your service will be inspirational," she said. Passion "allows you to commit and to dedicate" to sports as well as other interests, such as art, music and theater, she said.
"I think this is a clear testament to the dedication and commitment of all of your member schools to the importance of sportsmanship," Gaine said.
Best Inc. motivational speaker Harvey Alston asked five students to hold up a card featuring a letter. The letters spelled "happy." Each letter represented part of Alston's philosophy: heart, attitude, people, pride and you.
"You can control your own happiness. If you don't do it, somebody else will," Alston said.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft talked about Danny Woodhead, the 5-foot-9 running back the team signed on Sept. 18, four days after the New York Jets waived him.
Woodhead, Kraft said, who is "shorter than I am," is "a guy who never gave up, who had a lot of rejections."