I wanted to describe someone as a player in the positive sense but the word seems to have too many negative connotations to use without explanation. The word or phrase I'm looking for describes someone as "in the game", an active participant, making a difference, and meriting respect.
Edit: Though this question has been closed as not likely having a factual answer, I am still hopeful someone will know one. As pointed out I could have done a much better job of explaining the concept I was going for. In particular, the word describes one who is an active participant in all parts of life (or at least whatever part is in context), enjoys participating, is successful and is focused on the playing rather than the winning. I was hoping for a word that stands along without context. I'm told "player" alone suggests one who manipulates others.