By John Paul Rodocanachi '18
Okay let’s get one thing straight. I am NOT, in most cases, what I or my teammates would consider a ‘good leader on the sports field’. However, in my past four years playing STA Football, I have learned much from watching various leader, and have seen my team go from an abysmal 1-9 to 5-5 in three years. In my opinion, this change was purely through better leadership rather than talent. So, without further ado, here is what I have learned what to do and what not to do in order to lead your team to success.
First off, creating camaraderie, and making sure everyone ‘buys in’, is by far the most important thing in order to create a successful sports team. I know it sounds like a given, but it is so crucial. Both my Freshman and Sophomore year I felt pretty alone playing. Loss after loss, no one seemed to believe that we could possibly win after our first game against Anacostia. This is not to say that we didn’t want to win, but the moral was not there. No one seemed to speak up and say enough is enough, and I began to get the feeling toward the end of the year, “What is this all for?” Game after game, practice after practice, to be quite frank, I was uninspired and tired of the sport.
The difference my Junior year came when people like Donovan Rolle '17, Dakota Foster '17, John Galbreath '17, and other seniors decided that they would simply not accept these losses. I began to feel the energy and camaraderie from our senior leaders right from the start. It's hard to fully describe, but because of this new culture, it felt like we were all going through the same experience. Whether it was a preseason workout, an afternoon practice, or a big Saturday Varsity game, we were unified through our work at becoming a team of winners. We all shared those tough moments, like carrying teammates up the hill at camp, and the amazing ones, like starting the season off by returning the opening kickoff for six against Anacostia. In practice, the leaders held themselves and their teammates accountable. These leaders made sure that we all understood the plays being run and worked to set the tone for both practice and games by showing us that everything has got to be done with 100 percent effort. Last year, through that leadership, I learned in order to function as a great team, you need to rely on each other heavily and create the sense that, to quote High School Musical, “We’re all in this together.”
Most importantly, last year's senior leaders have taught me what it means to be a successful teammate by seeing how the actions of others affect the attitude of the overall team. When I see a leader do a drill better than me, I will try to raise my standards and use his success as motivation to do better. Similarly, when a I see a leader that comes out to a rainy, Wednesday afternoon practice and has a good attitude and mindset, he directly influences me to keep a more positive and focused outlook.
In my opinion, this idea goes even further than football or any athletic field. Whether your ‘team’ is connected through sports, school, or even your family and close friends, I have found that a good leader has a positive attitude and is willing to persevere and be a team player. You may not realize it at the time, but that one person, that one leader, truly has an immense effect on the success of any type of team.