The Swim Club – July 9, 2011

I was rearranging some posts on my first blog and came upon this.  It really needed to be a part of the LRL anthology and it relates to the message of  what it takes to be a teammate and how to work as a team.

Wanted to share an extraordinary story with you about a group of friends: teammates.

Hunter Poindexter, Mensah Amuzu, Chris Hahn, Henry Read, Brian Schears and Bill Carpenter – all offensive linemen – will be seniors at HHS this fall. Hunter, Mensah, Chris, Henry and Brian have known each other since Cardinal Football. I believe Bill moved here as he entered high school and found a home right with them.

Since their freshman year, all of these young men have invested a great deal of themselves – physically, mentally and emotionally – towards finishing their high school football careers at the pinnacle of their abilities.

Late this spring, adversity made its presence known; and with it, presented an opportunity.

Hunter fractured his lower leg and damaged some of the ligaments in his ankle during track practice. He underwent surgery to bind the fractures and repair the other injuries. He recently left his crutches and walking boot behind. Hunter only now is walking in tennis shoes. Running may still yet be in his distant future. What could be his final football season starts in less than a month.

Once the cast came off, Hunter took to the pool. His teammates, Mensah, Chris, Henry, Brian and Bill followed him there, at 6:30 in the morning, three times a week, to “rehab” with Hunter. They all “swim”, kick, and work out together. Then, once pool time is over, they go back to finish their regular preseason football training regimens; lifting weights, doing speed and agility work or moving a farm tractor tire across the field.

From a football perspective, perhaps kicking several lengths of the pool three times a week for a few months will enhance their strength and stamina, paying some dividends on the field this fall.

However, there is something far more powerful taking place here.

Hunter, Mensah, Chris, Henry, Brian and Bill are building a lasting and formidable bond.

The simple, selfless act of getting a little less sleep and supporting Hunter during his rehab is reinforcing their personal commitment to one another.

This is the essential element in what it takes to be a teammate; putting the other person’s needs, goals and success ahead of your own. This is the essence of teamwork; the recognition that the outcome you desire for yourself is inextricably tied to the performance and achievement of those around you – your teammates.

These O-Linemen may not realize the magnitude of their giving as of yet, but their morning swim club has established a powerful precedent for everyone on their team to follow. When you are on a team, it isn’t about what you can do: it is all about what you can do for the other guy.

We all know that being a football player takes a certain degree of strength, speed and athletic ability. But to be a teammate, to be able to play together “as one”, also requires “want to”.

You need to have the “want to” to make the guy next to you the most important person in your life at that moment.

Having the strength and courage to be able to risk losing some of who you are and what you need for the sake of your teammate is that unseen, unmistakable current of energy that can always make a good team, great. In bringing out the best in others, you ultimately bring out the very best in you.

Without a doubt, Hunter, Mensah, Chris, Henry, Brian and Bill are all very important parts of the 2011 Highlander varsity football team. However, through this experience, they have grown to become very important to each other.

When adversity makes its presence known again this season – and it will – they know they can count on one another to make the best of it and get through it.

That is the essence being a teammate, the ultimate purpose of team work and the beauty of our game.

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