“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether its sitting on a bench waiving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” – Kobe Bryant
Everyone wants to be the star. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. We should always expect to be the best at what we do.
But, here is the hard truth: Not everyone can be the ace pitcher, the best hitter, the leading scorer, the starting quarterback, etc. Don’t worry. There is still a way for every single one of us to be a star…as a TEAMMATE.
Jay Bilas explained the importance of being a great teammate in his book, Toughness. The following is a brief excerpt:
The greatest compliment to any player is that he or she is a great teammate. We can’t all be great players, but we can all be great teammates. And the key characteristic of a great teammate is belief. Belief, like trust, is a choice.
The toughest players and teammates believe in what their coaches and their teammates are striving to accomplish, and what they are capable of doing together as a team. Great teammates choose to commit fully to the team’s goals and understand in the big picture what is required of each individual, even in the face of setbacks or tough competition. It is not some blind or naive acceptance of a coach’s instructions or individual exercises, drills or games. A great teammate acknowledges the loftier goals and is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the group. There is no true sacrifice without belief.
In 2006, I was coaching in my first year of coaching. I had a roster of around sixteen players, but as the season progressed, I found myself playing the same ten or eleven for most of the innings. Being a first year coach, I spent a lot of time worrying about what the players thought of me and was waiting for someone to complain about playing time.
What I realized was that I had a group of really exceptional teammates. The kids that did not play as much never complained. In fact, the opposite happened. They took it upon themselves to do every single little thing possible to help the team win. They willingly chased foul balls, kept charts, warmed up pitchers, and most importantly, encouraged their teammates without fail.
Perhaps the coolest thing they did was elect a dugout captain, or “Doc” as he became known, who created signs that he would relay to the rest of the players. These signs (given just like a 3rd base coach) determined everything from cheers to being up on the fence to sending someone to chase a foul ball. They took it upon themselves to find a way to contribute, instead of looking for ways to complain.
We had a very special season that year. While none of those kids were recognized for their contributions on the field, their contributions as great teammates were an essential part of why our year was so successful. They believed in what we were doing and accepted their role. Better yet, they took pride in their role of being great teammates.
Life may not always ask us to play the leading role. That does not mean we are not important. We can all be great teammates in anything we do. We simply need to take a little initiative, find our role, and own it. We owe it to ourselves, and to our team.
Bring your best today!