The Power of Positivity: SportsChallenge's Lasting Impact
When I arrived at SportsChallenge in 2010, I liked soccer. It was my one of my favorite sports, and I genuinely enjoyed playing on my school and club teams. I thought that I wouldn’t pursue it any further after high school was over; it was going to be a hobby. A hobby I was passionate about, but nothing more. Soccer would be a game I’d occasionally play on an intramural team in college, and maybe even kick around with some friends. But much to my surprise, on that last day of SportsChallenge, I realized that I didn’t just like soccer, I couldn’t live without it.
I came to SportsChallenge with high expectations. What I didn’t expect was to leave as a completely different soccer player. I knew that I was at a special place when at 6:45 AM on the first day, I was walkingover to the tennis courts for Vitamins and was greeted by coaches giving me high fives, laughing with each other, and lookinggenuinely excited to be up at that ungodly hour. I discovered that their energy was contagious as I found myself becoming less and less tired by the minute while lacing up my running shoes. This pattern continued throughout the nine days; I was tired, the coaches never were, and I found myself becoming excited to wake up at 6:30 AM every day. The coaches’ infectious energy was only one of the many ways they displayed their unparalleled leadership.
Over the course of the nine days, the coaches had more of an impact on me than I had thought they ever would. Especially in the girls’ soccer program, I looked up to them, and respected them as people and athletes. They were strong, fast, skilled, and never without a smile on their face. Here were these incredible female athletes who loved soccer more than anything in the world, and were incredibly talented; I couldn’t help but admire them. They led our group with generosity and strength, but with great control. It was the perfect balance; they respected us, we respected them.
By the end of SportsChallenge, I felt like a new athlete. My best friend and SC Alum of three years, Alice Bell, and I returned home with an incredible amount of excitement for our final season. We knew that we could implement a lot of what we learned at SportsChallenge to try to help our team. Alice and I vowed that our main goal coming into our senior season would be to take leadership roles, unite the team once again, and if winning came along with our new cohesion, so be it. By the time preseason rolled around, we knew that if we came into practice each and every day with positivity and energy, as SportsChallenge taught us, the rest of the team would follow. We ended our final season by getting to the conference championship and losing, but no other team in the PVAC cared about and respected one another more, I guarantee it. Alice and I more than exceeded our expectations, and helped create not just a better team, but also a group of girls that were our best friends. SportsChallenge absolutely was the catalyst that brought the team so much success.
Because of SportsChallenge, I was geared with the perfect array of leadership tools to help my high school team, I was fueled with motivation to not just want to play soccer in college, I had to play soccer in college, and I discovered ways to define myself as a person and an athlete. Looking back, I can’t believe that I felt even remotely apathetic about the sport that is now the center of my life. Thanks to the coaches, the classes, and SportsChallenge as a whole, I feel that I owe them thanks for igniting my love for the game that had been previously dwindling.
Now, as I look toward the future and begin to getready to work as a coach and mentoralongside a few of the coaches I look up to so much, I hope to use the tools I learn this summer and bring them back to my team at school. It’s strange for me to think that my role of student athlete will be reversed to coach in a matter of weeks. As a coach, I will be expected to not only master a broad range of skills, but also be able to teach them to others. That will be a big change of pace for me, since I am usually the one being told what to improve on. Also, I will be forced to speak up and give direction at all times, something I’ve always been slightly lacking in. And yet, I am incredibly excited to take on these new challenges. I hope that if I learn these new skills that I will be able to have more of a voice on my team at school. We graduated six fantastic seniors, all with very strong voices and opinions on the team. So, new leadership roles have opened up and I hope to fill one of them. Every team could always use some adjustments, and I feel as though mine could certainly benefit from a little piece of SportsChallenge’s beliefs and ideas; honestly, any team can. One thing I know for sure is, as a coach, I can only hope that between any combination of my leadership, soccer, or teaching skills, I spark a lifelong love for someone’s sport as SportsChallenge did for me.
This week's Lesson in Leadership post is wrritten by SportsChallenge Summer Intern and Coach Across America member, Helen Brown '10. She describes her time at the Summer Leadership Academy and explains the power of being a positive mentor and how that can have more of an effect on someone than you may think.
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