There’s No “I” in Team
Growing up, I wanted to be the best at everything for one reason. That reason was to get noticed and praised for excelling in the field of sports. Sure I loved winning, but more importantly, I worried about how I appeared to everyone around me. I was not worried about my teammates or my coaches, just about myself. However, through my experiences, I have found working as a team in a concentrated effort, fueled by a common interest and sincere love for each other, to be the most powerful force in the world.
I’m not trying to brag, but when I was younger I always seemed to be the best player on my team, no matter the sport. That remained the same throughout middle school and I got what people like to call a “big head.” Winning and losing didn’t bother me as much as achieving my ultimate goal, to make the all-star team and get recognized. I did not show it on the outside through arrogance or cockiness, but in my mind I knew that’s what it came down to for me.
Nothing changed during my early years of high school. I made the varsity soccer and basketball team and I was one of the better players on the junior varsity baseball team as a freshman. That recognition was enjoyable. Junior year, my high school soccer team made it to the district finals. I scored the game winner in the semifinals with one minute to play and boy did that get to me. So much so that after we lost in the finals I thought to myself, “I can only do so much,” and I put a lot of blame on the rest of the team. I rode the bench for varsity basketball that year and watched us make a deep run into the state playoffs. A coach the preached extreme discipline as well as team unity and love brought out the best in the team. Watching how the coach and the best players led us as a group taught me a lot of what it is to be a leader.
Fast forward to my senior year of baseball. If you compared the teams from the past ten seasons with our team that year, we were no doubt the least skilled. We had a great group of fun guys who got along great. However, on the field, we only had one stud player and a bunch of average players. That player led our team and ended up carrying the team for the most part. However, he did not lead us in the way a captain should emotionally, he did so simply by dominating physically. Don’t get me wrong, that was crucial, but throughout the year, as we struggle, things changed. Under the most fun loving, yet exceptionally baseball-smart coaches ever, our team began to gel. It started in practice, where we encouraged each other through the tough workouts, showing deep a love for one another. By the end of the regular season, not only were we playing along side each other, we were playing for each other. We barely made into the district playoffs, eking out one of the lowest seeds. We surprised everyone. We swept through districts with ease and ran through the state tournament all the way to the semi final game. We lost that semifinal game and that was that. It was extremely disappointing, but everyone on that team will tell you how proud we were of each other. I have never been a part of or seen a team like ours that year, where everyone was simply playing for his teammate. By doing that we took down teams ten times more skilled then us with relative ease.
I have talked to many players from previous years teams and they always say their team is better than ours. I can’t disagree if you simply look at talent. However, looking deeper than that you can clearly see we were the better team. And if it comes down to it, I can always pull out my district championship team jackets and medals and ask, “Where’s yours?”
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