More than 300 student-athletes from around the state converged on Oakland Mills High in Howard County for the inaugural MPSSAA Student Leadership Conference last week. The all-day event featured several workshops, educating the attendees on being positive examples on the athletic field, their school and community.

“Some of our colleagues have been doing it and we’ve heard very good things about. Some said it’s the best thing they do all year,” said Ned Sparks, executive director of the MPSSAA. “The last couple of years, we’ve sent a small group to the national conference. We thought why can’t we expand it and take advantage of the things out there to refine their leadership skills.”

Individual sessions focused on being on a team captain, decision-making, virtues, team building, dangers of texting while drive a car. Michael Gimbel, founder of Powered by Me, discussed the dangers of steroids and other performance enhancing supplements.

Harvey Alston and Stephen Bargatze were the featured guest speakers. Alston, a former football coach in Ohio, is one of the country’s top motivational speakers. Bargatze, a top motivational speaker and world-class magician, is the director of Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Student Service Program.

 Sparks said the MPSSAA wanted to present the student athletes a different game plan.

 “They don’t realize they can transfer some of those skills, not just athletic, but team work, disclipine and transfer that into everyday life,” he said. “They’re getting something out of their athletic participation, more than scoring touchdowns or hitting a basket.”

The following area schools districts in attendance included:

Anne Arundel County: Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast, Old Mill, Severna Park, South River, Southern

Baltimore City: Dunbar, Edmondson, Friendship Academy, Frederick Douglass, Institute of Business and Enterprise, Maritime Academy, Masonville Cove, Poly, Reginald Lewis, Southside Academy, Southwestern, Western

Baltimore County: Carver A&T, Catonsville, Chesapeake, Dulaney, Dundalk, Eastern Tech, Franklin, Hereford, Kenwood, Lansdowne, Loch Raven, Milford Mill, New Town, Overlea, Owings Mills, Parkville, Patapsco, Perry Hall, Pikesville, Randallstown, Sparrows Point, Towson, Western Tech, Woodlawn

Carroll County: Century, Francis Scott Key, Liberty, North Carroll, South Carroll, Westminster, Winters Mill

Cecil County: Bohemia Manor, Elkton, North East, Perryville, Rising Sun

Harford County: Aberdeen, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Edgewood, Falllston, Harford Tech, Joppatowne, North Harford, Patterson Mill

Howard County: Atholton, Centennial, Glenelg, Hammond, Howard, Long Reach, Marriotts Ridge, Mount Hebron, Oakland Mills, Reservoir, River Hill, Wilde Lake