Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Captain Chemistry

(above hands not actually Dayu's, Colin's or Hh's)
Continuing to respond...
3) How does your relationship with your captains work? Are you guys all equal partners? Or does your wealth of experience make it so that you have the final decision? How does this manifest itself with the team and in huddles? Who dominates the huddles at practice and at tournaments? Is it you or is the captains? How do you run your huddles at practices? At tournaments?
My relationship with the Hodag captains is great, thank you (but perhaps you should also ask them!). I'll explain our dynamic as I see it. The "Or" beginning your 3rd question implies that either that question or the one prior is answered in affirmative, but not both. I guess I disagree with that premise. Aside from our captains-coach relationship, I have been teammates with Dayu and Colin Camp on Madison Club, as well as their captain on same, but we've also been friends throughout the entire experience. We share a lot of our discretionary time with each other, and we go deep; there are things we have survived or experienced together that I cannot share here. So I see our relationship as an equal partnership, and there is no way I'd be able to do my part without their contribution.

Along with that, our roles and responsibilities complement but are not congruent to each other. And in my role, my "wealth of experience" does make it so I "have the final decision" in matters on the field or at practice, and w/r/t behavior and expectations. But letting the story end there might leave some thinking that I'm roaming around Hodag lives vetoing and imposing my will, which I do not. As I said in an earlier post, the officer corps and I are communicating all the time (unlimited texts & minutes), and I push us in the direction we all want to go. But having the final say in some things is helpful and necessary; there are times when decisions need to be made quickly; also everyone on the same page doing something is often more successful than everyone on their own page doing what they think is right. I'll stick my neck out and say that I have the trust of the captains, trust that I will make decisions with the team's best interest in mind, that those decisions are informed by sound strategy, and that I listen to what they tell me and take them into account.

In teaching high schoolers, captaining adults, or coaching college guys, I've found that deciding and leading unilaterally doesn't come close to getting the same mileage that collaborative work, focused on shared goals, does - Aesop's fable of the Sun and the Wind competing for a man's coat was big for me as a lil'un. I have mentioned that I do not have a vote in picking the team, only the 5 officers do. I attend the cuts and ask questions they should be asking, give my own input on players, and make sure we're balancing present and future. Because of my feedback during the process I've never looked at our final roster and wished it were different; only twice have I adamantly lobbied for a player, making clear I was convinced he should be on the team. In both cases I think time has vindicated my advocacy.

I do most of the talking in huddles, and when presenting drills- a little too much of it, I feel. At practice, I introduce drills and establish the focus of each while the vets demo, and once we're going veterans keep the chatter up and give feedback - this constant learning from each other is a crucial part of our long-term success. Post-practice huddles and most huddles at tournaments it's my voice coming from within. To some extent this is helpful to us; I know as captain of Club firsthand how distracting from your own play it can be to have to be thinking of salient points for the team to focus on. One of the nice things about having a coach is that your captains get to just play. But I also see our team as a long class in citizenry for the outside world. Hodags put in such a tremendous personal investment, working toward long-term goals that are a year, or two, or five long. They should leave the team with the confidence earned from constantly pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, and using those challenges for personal growth. Cultivating this side of my players is also a responsibility of mine, and I need to give the captains more of a voice, so that they graduate as Hodags and Badgers, proud and full-throated, ready to lead.