Conference at University of Scranton Celebrates National Sportsmanship Day, Promotes Coaching Education


In celebration of the 21st annual National Sportsmanship Day, The University of Scranton will host class of 1966 alumnus John Walsh, executive vice president and executive editor of ESPN, Inc., during PIAA-sponsored conference entitled “Schools Shaping the Culture of Sport” on Tuesday, March 15, and Wednesday, March 16, at the DeNaples Center on campus. The conference includes workshops for coaches, athletes and parents, an award dinner and a panel discussion about values and character in sport at the national level.

Walsh will participate in the panel discussion titled “National Panel: Values, Character and Sport in the USA” on March 16 from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. The discussion is free and open to the public. Steve Vacendak, Scranton Prep alumnus and Duke University basketball great, who is the executive director of NC Beautiful, will join Walsh as a panelist.  Donnie Collins, sports writer for The Scranton Times-Tribune, will serve as moderator.

During Walsh’s 22-year career at ESPN, he has overseen the launch of ESPN The Magazine and ESPN Radio; was instrumental in developing the many news and information elements within ESPN, including networks and new shows; has led the editorial direction of and its properties; and served as the managing editor, responsible for the editorial content of all news and informational programming, including SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship sports news program. In 2009, The University of Scranton President’s Business Council awarded Walsh the President’s Medal, which recognizes individuals who have achieved excellence in their fields and who have demonstrated extraordinary compassion for others.

The panel discussion follows a dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at which the first Bochicchio Award for the Promotion of Character through Sport will be presented. The award, funded by the American Sport Education Program, will be presented to a school district in recognition of exemplary development of character and sportsmanship. While the panel discussion is free of charge, there is a $25 charge for those who wish to also attend the dinner.

The Bochicchio Sport Character Initiative’s programs honor the memory of the late Joe Bochicchio, a University of Scranton coach who has inspired much of the University’s work to promote sportsmanship and coaching education.

The two-day conference, entitled “Schools Shaping the Culture of Sport,” is open to all coaches and athletic directors in school districts in PIAA District II, as well as youth sport leaders and coaches and sport educators at the collegiate level. Held in conjunction with the University’s Bochicchio Sport Character Initiative, the conference features a lineup of relevant presentations and prominent national spokespersons in the field of coaching preparation, education and certification.

Topics of interest include “State of Youth Sports in the USA,” “The High School AD as Sport Educator – Shaping the Sport Culture of the School District,” and “Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach Workshop for Coaches, Athletic Administrators and Parents.” Presenters include Jim Perry, a member of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education Board of Directors, and the sport coordinator and chairman of the Steering Committee for Athletic Directors and Coaches; Matt Davidson, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Excellence and Ethics and a 1992 graduate of The University of Scranton; and several PIAA officials and regional experts.

A session on youth sports, which runs from 8 to 9:45 a.m. on March 16, features Tom Farrey, an ESPN correspondent and author of the widely acclaimed book “Game On: How the Pressure to Win at All Costs Endangers Youth Sports.”  The book is available at The University of Scranton bookstore. For those who wish to attend that session only, their copy of the book will be their “ticket.” 

On March 15 at 1:30 p.m., following registration, the conference kicks off with a workshop for student-athletes titled “Leadership and Competitiveness.” Presented by Perry, this session is aimed at student-athlete leaders from all schools across District 2. Following that presentation University of Scranton Professor David Black, Ph.D., will lead the student-athletes in a discussion regarding the initiation of an “Interscholastic Sports Leadership Program” across District 2.

District 2 coaches, athletic directors and students interested in attending the workshop must register with Mike Ognosky, superintendent of Montrose Area Schools and District 2 secretary, by mail to Montrose Area School District, 273 Meteor Way, Montrose, Pa. 18801 or by fax to (570) 278-2426. For additional information contact Jack O’Malley, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology and chair of the steering committee of Bochicchio Sport Character Initiative, at 941-4269 or at

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