PITTSFIELD -- Student-athletes from across Berkshire County gathered at the Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield on Tuesday for the second Berkshire County Leadership Summit.

The event featured workshops led by speaker Harriet Turk, as well as athletic directors and student leaders.

The goal of the summit was to promote sportsmanship and leadership among athletes in the county.

"What we've found in the last few years is that sportsmanship in Berkshire County has gotten a little shaky," Lenox athletic director Joan Schultz said.

Schultz and other Berkshire County athletic directors felt that sportsmanship, especially among rival schools, needed to improve.

By gathering ideas from the summer summit held by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the athletic directors decided to design their own version for Berkshire County.

"We felt that it was important for the kids to work together through the rivalries and to see each other as high school students," Drury athletic director Molly Meczywor said.

Students attended workshops directed to use sports as a positive way to improve community service and school spirit, as well as making better choices in their everyday lives, and other ideas. Turk said it's important for student-athletes to see themselves as leaders so they can help others around the community.

"When you get the students to dedicate some time to think about themselves and what they can do with leadership, they can help themselves and they can help others," she said.

One workshop, led by Drury senior Joe Liporace, was dedicated to helping student-athletes find their own leadership style. The students learned different ways to lead and the effects of being a positive influence in the community.

"Our youth is the most valuable thing that we have," Liporace said. "But sometimes we don't focus on making them leaders. So things like this really help develop our futures, develop future leaders and help us take that first step."

Students from Pittsfield and Taconic or Lenox and Lee sat together, ate lunch and discussed the positives of good sportsmanship. Athletic directors hope the lessons learned at the summit will translate on and off the field.

Mount Greylock athletic director Lindsey von Holtz said that student-athletes learn and follow the examples of their peers. She hopes that having a summit to give athletes ways to handle adversity in a positive and respectful way will help the community as a whole.

"They're probably learning more from the people sitting next to them and that's one of our goals," she said. "[Having] more group discussions and realizing there are other students out there that want the same things they want. They understand what it is to [be] a good sport and a good leader."

To reach Akeem Glaspie:
aglaspie@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie.