I Believe in Teams

Elizabeth - Elmsford, New York
Entered on June 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the importance of a team.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” I may be clueless when it comes to sports, but I know this is true, and not just for basketball, or for fame—this applies to everyone achieving any notable success or accomplishment; they did not do it alone.

Just as pop stars need talented musicians, songwriters, and choreographers; and politicians need innovative advisors, PR people, and speech-writers; all people who achieve fame, or any success, owe it to many besides themselves, and every member of the team is important.

In my sophomore year of high school, I signed up for the science research course, not entirely sure what to expect. Starting with the guidance and support of my parents and my science research teacher, I struggled to decide on a topic but was eventually able to find an amazing mentor. With my “team” now essentially complete, things began falling rapidly into place.

I was soon able to narrow down a topic, and although many sophomores had been progressing much more quickly through the program checkpoints in the first half of the year, I was soon advancing beyond my peers. I was able to complete my initial project the summer of my sophomore year, rather than the summer of my junior year.

During my junior year, I continued my research, which, though grueling, was extremely successful. This was, again, thanks to my “team,” which had now grown to include a few of my mentor’s research assistants who supervised me, in addition to a person often overlooked, my school bus driver. His willingness to drop me off at the lab offered enormous convenience and contributed largely to my success, as I was able to visit the lab almost everyday if I chose to. If any element of this “team” wasn’t present, my research could have progressed much differently.

Later in the year, I began entering competitions. This was when I really needed my mentor again. He put in long hours and late nights to help me write my paper, and when it came time to present, cleared out hours of his extremely busy schedule to help me practice. I also practiced with my parents, with my teacher, and with the ill-fated sophomores in my science research class.

Much to my surprise, I won my very first competition, which allowed me to advance directly to the international level, the largest pre-college science competition in the world.

I had a very important team: my parents, my teacher, my mentor, my lab colleagues, my bus driver, my fellow science research students, my friends. My entire team was integral to my success in science research. I could not have done any of it alone.

Similarly, John Wooden could not have left his legacy of ten NCAA championships and four undefeated seasons without a cooperative, strong team.

From sports to science research, teams are essential for achieving any accomplishment.