Putting Your Teem First
Yes, we know the word team is spelled incorrectly. It is not an important word in many circles these days so we didn’t bother making corrections. It is so overlooked that many people only think of the color of uniform when we say team.
If you are missing the concept of team, you are missing one of the most important lessons that softball, or any team sport, has to offer. These days few people see value in that concept, choosing to focus on self. We see pro athletes say it over and over at contract time. “I have to put my own best interests first”. Who cares that some lineman left a lot of sweat and blood on the field so a running back could run through big holes and get a big contract. It’s every man for himself.
That attitude has trickled down to all levels of sport. I have been involved in coaching at many levels and watched our teams win championships that I will always cherish. The best ones are those where players come together with such chemistry that the result is far greater than the sum of the parts. Each one begins to care about the team so much that she will leave some skin on the field, knowing others will do the same. As a result of their dedication to one another, each unconsciously raises her game, which excites other members of the team and creates a desire to respond in kind.
Not only do they become better players, but they have a vision so strong that it outweighs any conflicts, helping them to resolve differences and keep their eyes on the prize. They learn to contribute and encourage one another. They develop social skills. Best of all, they develop a strong sense of community, so they stand together against any threat. Through that process they become better at all aspects of relationships, building loyalty, dealing with people on the job, working through tough times in the family, and bringing those skills to the community where they live.
Teamwork teaches many things, but here are mindsets we see when players take it to the next level:
-If everyone else on the team is exceeding expectations, maybe I need to aim higher.
-If I make a mistake while trying to make a sensational play, it’s okay because I know they have my back.
-I must spend extra time in the gym and on the field so I can help my team because they had my back when I needed them.
In an age of exposure tournaments, exposure camps, and jumping from team to team in order to get noticed, we may have taken away one of the most valuable opportunities for our daughters to find something in themselves that they never knew existed. Some think of it as a cause, a calling, or a mission. We call it putting team first. It is a reason to get up in the morning that extends beyond one’s self. Wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems in our world?
Having a reason to reach higher, be better, and do it for others, thereby becoming better yourself. Few kids ever get the opportunity to experience that magical feeling even once in their lives. It is called being a part of a team. Putting on the same color uniform does not create a team.