Traits of a Leader

Anthony - Bishop, Georgia
Entered on March 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I have been playing soccer for about ten years now, and four of those years I have been a captain. This year is a little different. I am one of the most inexperienced players on the varsity team. Although I get some playing time, it does not compare to what I am familiar with – leading my team and playing the whole game.

I will never forget when I was first asked to be captain. I was in seventh grade and was playing for a club team. I just had my worst practice and was very upset with myself. Of all the days my coach could have asked me to be captain, he decided to ask me that day. I declined it because I felt that I didn’t deserve it. Later that night I called to explain. I told him that I really did want to be captain but felt so badly about how I played that I could not accept his offer. He just said, “I know you are upset, but I know I made the right choice.”

I don’t know why I am always chosen, whether it is my skill level, positive attitude on the field, or just simply my love of the game. My parents tell me I am a natural leader, but how can they tell? It is not that I ever intended to be a leader; maybe it is the qualities that other people see in me.

We recently lost a game to a rival team and the whole team was down about the loss. We played terribly, and everybody on the team knew it. When the captain of our varsity team spoke, he just made me feel worse. He said, “I’ve been busting my ass at every single practice and every single game, and I have to come out here and rely on people that don’t even want to be here? If we want to go to the state playoffs this year, I’m going to need better teammates. So, if you don’t want to go to the playoffs, you can just leave!” Listening to his poor attitude made me want to leave. However, I stayed, of course, and that is when I heard one of the seniors say the truest thing I have ever heard. He said, “Guys, just remember, just because you don’t have a captain’s armband on when you’re playing doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader on the field.”

To be a leader, be a good example. Leaders give one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time. Leaders notice when someone does something right, not only when someone does something wrong. Playing a team sport reveals what kind of person each player really is on the inside. Anybody can be a leader by working hard and trying harder than anyone else. So for all of you striving to be the best, don’t stop until you give it all you have got. This I believe.