The Team, The Team, The Team

Bo Schembechler is one of the greatest coaches ever at the University of Michigan. He understood the concept of team and how to get the most out of his players.

The team. People always talk about it and its importance to the overall goal of winning. Many people think they know what it means. Some people could care less about the team. They’re all about themselves and their own success. These kinds of people are often not very well liked by the team. It is very hard to overcome these selfish teammates and accomplish the overall goal of winning a championship. As a senior in high school at a place where sports teams are sometimes more important than academics, the concept of a team has become a huge part of my life and has allowed me to impact the lives of others.

Having played baseball and hockey since I was only three years old, I have been a part of numerous teams and seen how if you don’t have everyone buying into the team aspect, your team will never amount to much. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have that team aspect, that comradery with your teammates, then you have nothing. Sure you can get away with it for awhile. Your team will probably be good and win a lot of games if you have the talent, but your team will never be great. It won’t go to that next level. In baseball teams can get away with this. However, with hockey everyone needs to be committed to the success of the team and not individual, personal success.

This is the downfall of many hockey teams including mine. Every kid on the team isn’t willing to do whatever it takes to better the team. Not everyone is for the boys or “ferda” which is a term I like to use in describing a teammate willing to do anything for the team. He is for the boys and not all about himself.

Blocking shots for your goalie is a huge part of the “ferda” mystique.

A huge problem for my hockey team is many kids are so caught up in how many points they have that they forget about the team’s overall goal of winning the championship. Everyone wants to score the big goal. It’s human nature to want the spotlight and be the clutch player. It takes guts to be the guy who sets the goal up or gets on base so someone else can drive you in. These players are never in the spotlight in the eyes of the fans. However, these players are praised by the team in the locker room because they are the backbone of the squad. This is where teams fall apart especially with high school hockey. Our friends come to all the games and everyone wants to be the guy who scores the goals in front of their friends. Great teams are able to overcome this selfish urge and concentrate on performing for the goals of the team, not the goals of individuals.

Leadership is key in building a great team whether it be baseball or hockey. My junior year, I was one of nine returning varsity players for our hockey team so we had a lot of new guys. Our captains were three seniors, one of whom had been on the varsity squad since freshman year. The other two didn’t understand the concept of a team and they were just concerned with their personal achievements. I can recall this specific time in the playoffs where I was wide open for a pass in the slot. We were in overtime in an elimination game. One of our captains had the puck and he looked right at me open in the slot. I remember making eye contact expecting him to hit me with a pass and I would tap it in for the game winner. Instead, he took a shot and completely missed the net. While we did end up winning that game to advance, I was very upset because one of our captains had been extremely selfish. His conduct along with the other leaders only encouraged selfish play on our team. We ended up losing the next series which was the semis. We didn’t reach our team goal of that championship, but those captains got their personal achievements so they didn’t really care. While they don’t realize it, the way they act impacts the younger players because they follow what they do. Leadership is key in a great team and it sets the example for everyone else.

The other aspect necessary for a great team is the will to work. We practice regularly for my high school team, but not everyone puts in 100% all the time. You have to want to do the work for yourself and the guy sitting next to you. You’re cheating the team when you don’t practice as hard as you can. When you get a group of guys willing to do any work necessary to achieve a goal you are unstoppable. The will to never stop and never give up on the team goal is always a hard trait for a team to acquire. Everyone needs to understand their role for the team and want to do that role to the best of their ability.

Having fun is a huge part of becoming a great team. If you and your teammates aren’t able to have the time of your life playing the sport you love then you guys will never win anything. It is necessary to joke around sometimes and it can be healthy for the team. Look at Coastal Carolina who just won the College World Series. They were not the most talented team, but they understood what it means to be a team. They had the most fun out of any team at the tourney.

The team. A very complex word that is only understood by very few. The will to take yourself out of the spotlight to better the team. The will to sacrifice your body and block a shot or take a hit by pitch for the team. The will to work as hard as you can for the team. It is very hard to do all the time. Good teams will never understand these concepts. As humans we thrive for the spotlight and to be the guy who gets all the glory from everyone at school. Great teams are able to set aside this thirst for the spotlight and direct all their desire towards the team goal. They are able to find something to like in every person that is a part of the team. So ask yourself, “Am I that guy who lives for the spotlight and could care less about anyone else?” As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Becoming a great a team is a very sophisticated process, but it can be achieved by any team which makes it so cool. Having been around different kinds of teams my whole life, I have realized that I am always a part of something greater than myself. Once you can understand that and know that whatever you do has an effect on the team, you allow yourself to be a great teammate. Great teammates lead to great teams. If you can reach that status of a great team, you increase your chances of obtaining that team goal of winning a championship. The team. It is a hard concept to master, but it allows any group of players to go down in history as legends.

And so I leave you with this quote. You can never accomplish what you want as a team if there are players focused on their individual wants. Every player has to acquire that “ferda” mentality. They all have to be willing to step out of the spotlight, work for each other, and just have that mentality that we’re going to beat you. Having fun is a very underrated aspect, but it plays such a big role. Only then, when all of these come together will a team be considered great. When everyone buys in and wants to do whatever it takes to reach the team goal. Not only will the team reach its goal, they will go down in history and the friendships made will last forever. A good team is just a group of guys. A great team is a family that will walk together forever. The team, the team, the team.

By: GOAT contributor,
-Condor
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