I had the privilege of playing soccer at Cottonwood High School even though I went to a charter school called the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (AMES). I was thrilled when I made the soccer team my freshman year because I had been playing soccer on and off since I was four. I was ready to build lifelong relationships with my new high school team.
I can be honest enough to say that I was never the best player on the team. I was never MVP and I probably would not have gotten a full ride scholarship for soccer; but I came to practice every day and left my heart out on the field every game. I had progressed greatly from my freshman year to my junior year. With my personal growth it was surprising to my fellow team members when I decided not to come back my senior year. Senior year players get more playing time, more praise and more fun experience. Unfortunately, I had such a negative experience with my appointed captains that I did not want to return for my senior year of playing.
A captain is supposed to be someone who makes everyone feel welcome. A team captain should motivate all of the players, of all positions, to do their best at every practice, every game and should hold themselves and their team members in high regards. The captains my junior year of high school were nothing a captain should be. They made the other AMES players and myself feel segregated and unwelcome. They would openly make fun of the new members and less skilled players. They made me feel like I was not a good player, I was not wanted on the team and worst of all, they made me question my confidence as a player and a person. From hazing to caddy comments, I experienced it all that year. I did not feel like I could turn to any of my captains for help.
At one point, I was so tired of the captains saying negative things about my fellow members and I, that I told the coaches what they had been doing and saying. Instead of taking an introspective look at themselves as captains and correcting their negative hurtful actions, they decided to lash back at me during our end of the year banquet. The captains collectively decided to give me an award called "Chatty Cathy," in reference to me talking to the coaches about their actions.
I didn't play my senior year because I did not want to be subjected to the same disrespect that I had experienced. Retrospectively, I am glad I had such a negative experience because if not for that I would not be able to understand and value a good captain, a good leader, when I have one. This experience also taught me how to be a better leader. I learned how to recognize when I am becoming negative or hurtful, and gave me insight into the other side of the team. I don't know if those captains knew, or will ever know, how much they hurt my feelings and my confidence that year. Nevertheless, I thank them for the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and my footwork.