If you are on a team, be a team player!

Many high school kids will be starting a new season of practice this week. Whether it is football, volleyball, cross country or another fall sport, this is a good time to remember that being a team player is a decision.

Being a team player means you don’t seek individual glory. Yes, you work your butt off so that you are the best player you can possibly be, but it isn’t because you want your name talked about…it’s because you want to contribute to the consistent improvement of your team. And yes, sometimes your name might come up in a newspaper article for example, and if it does, kudos to you…but your pride should stem from the part you play in your team’s success, and not seeing your name in print.

Being a team player means you work just as hard if you are a star player, role player, or if you spend most of your time on the bench. It means you realize that you can set an example with your work ethic, and there is a possibility of the entire climate of practice changing for the better because of the first-rate effort of one player. And if it doesn’t change, you don’t let that stop you, because working hard no matter the result is a quality that will serve you well during the season and into your post-high-school future.

Being a team player means following training rules. Showing disrespect to rules that are put in place for well-thought-out reasons (even if you disagree with them) is showing disrespect to your team.

Being a team player means showing respect to authority figures. Whether it is the coaches of your sport, the teachers in school, the officials of your games…your attitude toward them rubs off on your teammates. It helps build your reputation as a respectful team. If you hear bad-mouthing of coaches and team members from others, team players respectfully avoid that conversation and choose to make positive remarks regarding the team and coaches who you are spending time with, making goals with and making memories with. Engaging in negative discourse has no positive benefits!

Being a team player means you talk to your teammates with respect. It also means you talk about them with respect. It means you think before you speak and decide if what you are about to say is beneficial to the dynamics of the team or if it might be detrimental. Yes, you are capable of getting along with even the hardest-to-get-along-with people! Often it will require a little extra prayer, patience, and perseverance, but it is worth pursuing! Being a teammate that helps obtain and preserve a cohesive quality on a team means more than you realize. And it is a trait that will matter for years to come.

Being a team player means remembering that it is not about you.

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