It Doesn't Take a Winner to be a Leader

September 1, 2007
By
After winning a big game or a championship, athletes are often asked how they reached that pinnacle of success. Most answer by saying their achievement is the result of grueling hard work and intense practice. Rarely does an interview go by without an athlete stating how hard it is to win the big games. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, is that fact that losing the big game, or in my case, all [italics] games, can be even tougher.

From the spectators' points of view, last year's basketball season for the King Philip High School Warriors was nothing short of an embarrassment. And while an 0 and 20 record is surely nothing to be proud of, it was that particular season that made a bigger impact on me than any other before, and probably more so than any season that will follow.


Going into the season as a team captain, I knew it would probably not be the easiest of years. Did I ever for a second think we would lose every single game? Of course not. But, in graduating six of our top players from the previous season, it was clear that we would be a young team who would struggle to compete.
The struggle began earlier than expected, though, as our teamÕs starting center was suspended for the season, and two key members of the squad decided to quit after only two weeks. At some point, the decision to quit the team probably passed through the minds of each and every player. In the end, though, the rest of us stuck it out and vowed to work even harder.

Throughout the season's first half, every player that stepped on the court tried his hardest for each minute he was out there. Most counted us out of games, and in hindsight they were just in doing so, but we never gave up on ourselves. There can a time, though, when all began to feel hopeless.

About two thirds of the way through the season, it even began to feel like our own coach had given up on us. Personally, at that point, I felt like it was no longer worth giving my all every single day. I thought, If my own coach doesn't believe in us, than why should I believe? But right as my hope began to fade, a fellow teammate held a players meeting. He said something to the effect of, Nobody thinks we're going to win, and heck weÕre probably not going to win, but as teammates, and as the best of friends, we owe it to each other to give it our all every single game.


Sure, it was all a little cliché, but it was that moment that taught me how to be a real leader. It hit me right then that I may have been a captain, but I, like many others in my position, certainly did not deserve the role. I learned that in a leadership position, you can never quit on the teammates who look up to you. It is one thing to be named captain of a team and to feel great about yourself while you go through the motions, but it is another to be a real captain and make sure everyone works to their full potential at all times. Lucky for me, I have another season as captain to redeem myself. I watched a genuine leader in action and I will try with all my heart to prove that his example was not set in vain. The impact he had on me will help me to become a true leader next season, whether it be in victory or defeat.

I am sure it is great to go through high school without losing and bringing home numerous trophies and awards. But in all honesty, I relish the fact that my team lost every single one of its games last year (obviously not in the sense that I'll go around and brag about it). It may never help me to become a better basketball player, but it has already helped me to become a better leader and better person.





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