By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The first, largest and longest-running program of its type in the country, the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Women In Sports Leadership Conference will take place Feb. 2-3 at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West.
The 24th edition of the conference again will feature three keynote speakers and a variety of workshops. The program annually attracts upwards of 500 participants, most of them high school female student-athletes. High school students, coaches and administrators are invited to find registration information on the MHSAA Website.
Cost is $50 for students and $60 for adults, not including lodging for those intending to stay overnight in Lansing. A registration form for lodging also is available on the MHSAA Website.
The theme for this WISL Conference is “The Courage to Lead” – and the opening address will be delivered by two-time Olympic women’s soccer gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley. She led Portage Central to the MHSAA Division 2 championship as a sophomore in 2000, was named college soccer’s National Player of the Year in 2003 after leading University of North Carolina to the NCAA Division I title, and played for the U.S. national team until retiring in 2011. She will speak on setting high standards and challenging one’s self to be a leader throughout life.
Michigan State University women’s volleyball coach Cathy George will challenge participants to embrace a growth mindset and believe in themselves and their potential while speaking at the WISL Banquet during the evening of Feb. 2. George recently completed her 15th season at MSU and 33rd overall as a college head coach. Her 288 wins at MSU are the most in program history, and she has a career record of 653-429 – counting also 11 seasons leading Western Michigan University, five at University of Texas-Arlington and two at North Dakota State. She has taken 15 teams to the NCAA Tournament, including MSU to the Elite Eight in 2017 and Texas-Arlington to the Final Four in 1989. As an athlete, George was a team captain and three-time all-league selection at Illinois State, helping the Redbirds to three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will speak during the opening session Feb. 3 on expanding opportunities for girls and women as athletes, coaches, sport executives and leaders. She chairs Michigan’s Task Force on Women in Sports, which brings together local and national leaders to develop strategies that support and promote opportunities for girls and women in athletics, and is a founding board member and former CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. Benson is a graduate of Harvard University Law School and expert on civil rights law, education law and election law. As dean of Wayne State University Law School, she was the youngest woman in U.S. history to lead a top-100 accredited law school, and she became in 2015 one of the youngest inductees into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Workshops offered during the WISL conference include topics on coaching, teaching and learning leadership; sports nutrition and performance, and injury prevention; empowerment and goal-setting, and building team chemistry and program culture. A complete itinerary is available on the MHSAA Website.
The WISL Banquet will include the presentation of this year’s Women In Sports Leadership Award. The winner will be announced later this month.
Follow the #WISL hashtag on Twitter to learn more about the conference’s activities.