What it Takes

Reiley - concord, Massachusetts
Entered on May 27, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: community, sports
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I learned recently that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. I had never fully respected this quote until this year because I had never had to lead a group before like the one I lead this year. I had always heard coaches and adults say “Not one player can be the team” or “We are only as strong as our weakest link”. I would walk away and think “who’s that guy”? He’s some loser that took that quote out of some book of clique quotes. I would continue on my way and keep playing my sport. However, it all changed this year.

Last year I was asked to be captain of the varsity lacrosse team at my school. This was something I was really honored to be asked to do. The captains and the players of the previous year’s team were great players, many of whom went to play for good college programs. When they and the rest of my team asked me to lead the team the next year I was very proud and honored. I did not see at that point the uphill battle that I would have to fight the next season.

As the fall came around it was my responsibility to get captains practices together and get things rolling so that when the season came around we would be ready to play. When I would look at the returners I would think that although we might not be as deep as last year’s team, we were looking pretty good. We had a good group of players returning. As the year went on, players that we needed to step up and be dominant players were expelled from school or left for personal reasons.

As the season neared I still had faith that we had a handful of kids that were strong enough players to carry the team even with the loss of a few good players. As we began the season we started the season a little up and down. I was sure that the ship would right itself and we would be on our way to a competitive season. But as the season went on, losses continued to pile up. I would try and push myself to turn things around and look to myself and ask “what’s wrong? Why can’t we to get this right?” I thought maybe it’s not my fault: maybe your team is not working hard. I then tried to push my teammates harder believing that maybe I can get them to work harder. However, as time went on, I knew that this was not the case. My teammates were working hard. They wanted to turn it around as badly as I did. I was left very confused. I began to realize that it was not that any one player was not trying hard enough or that we did not have good players because are players work hard and they were good players. The problem was that we had too many individuals and these accentuated are weak links. With out everyone working together we left individuals to fend for them self. Which leaves players that may not completely ready for the level of play needed to succeed left out to fend for them self without the support of there team. In a lacrosse game there are a few decisive points in the game and if everyone is not ready when these deceive points happen, does not matter how hard anyone tries. Beginning to seeing left me feeling hopeless. I realized that maybe I would be unable to right the season but it was my job to show the kids on the team the value of being ready when you are called upon and giving it you full effort even when things weren’t going your way. I saw that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Showed them that it is so important that every player is trusted to fulfill his role on the team, or the ship will never right itself. It comes down to everyone playing their role and being capable of getting the job done. Although are record was less then stellar the program learned a lesson on the importants of working as a team and being ready to do your part when you are called upon.

I learned that through this experience that in order for a team to be successful everyone needs to do their part and not allow themselves to the weakest link. I saw that I could not blame anyone for our marginal season. It came down to the fact that no matter how good a few players are on the team, everyone has to be ready to do their part. We are only as strong as our weakest link and if we are unable to have faith that everyone will make the plays that there role requires, we won’t be successful whether it is your job score when a goal is needed or the role of a bench player whose only job is to make the catch and pass the ball, every job is critical. We are only as good as our weakest link if we can’t count on everyone to make there plays then we are done. Even the weakest player must be ready to do what is asked of him and this is why I believe we are only as strong as our weakest link.