"The Team, The Team, The Team"
I’ve been a part of many teams in my life; baseball teams, basketball teams, track and cross country teams. One thing remains constant as I reflect back on the teammates that I had growing up: I remember the good ones, regardless of how talented they were.
Basketball became the sport I committed myself to, playing four years at Terre Haute North High School and two years at Wabash College. I feel like I saw it all in my basketball career. I was a part of teams that had loads of talent, but no chemistry and I was a part of teams that had great chemistry, but not as much talent. I’ll tell you right now, give me the team full of guys who are great teammates, who care about each other, and who play for each other EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I often think about a teammate from my freshman year of high school, Brett Taylor, who helped me wade through the difficult waters of being a freshman on a varsity team. I think about his daily encouragement to me when I was struggling to find my way. He was a senior who didn’t play hardly at all, but showed up, worked hard every day, and always had an excellent attitude.
He was the perfect example of a leader and mentor that every program needs who may never show up in the box score. He could have treated me like some dumb, but talented freshman who would eventually find his way on his own as most seniors would have, but he didn’t. He helped me feel a part of a team that I didn’t feel I deserved being on and I’ll never forget that.
A few years later when I was a senior, I was a part of easily the best team of my career. We had talent, but more importantly we had chemistry. We had a group of guys who just loved playing with each other and there wasn’t a bad teammate to be found. Two great ones from that team will always stick out in my mind: Evan Low and Chris Schenck.
These guys were juniors playing most of their minutes on the junior varsity team, which would make most guys at the same point in their career just give it up, but not them. They brought energy, effort, and great enthusiasm every day and made the varsity players better in practice. I never once heard them complain about playing time or why younger guys were getting a chance over them.
They just accepted and thrived in the roles assigned to them. All they cared about was the success of the program and for that reason, I’ll always be able to point to them as being two of my favorite teammates I ever had. Why am I bringing up these specific examples of good teammates? Because I feel that team sports have never been more centered around the individual that they are right now.
Players that you watch on TV are constantly talking about themselves and playing for themselves and their stats. It’s trickling down to high school and even youth leagues that I’ve watched. The individual is starting to become bigger and more important than the team in a lot of cases. So I bring up guys like Brett Taylor, Evan Low, and Chris Schenck to show you what team sports really are all about.
Of course, great players and great talent will always be important and sought after, but great teammates will forever be the backbone of any good program or organization. You can have your stats and your notoriety and your front-page article. All that really matters at the end of the day is ‘Did the TEAM win?’. Teammates like these three will NEVER be on the front page, but they WILL help teams hang championship banners and that’s all they care about.