When people hear athlete different things come to different people’s minds. When an athlete hears the word team we all get different pictures in our head but no matter what it’s always a group of people that are together ready to fight for each other and do whatever it takes to get the result they need and want.
After 17 years of playing a team sport there is one phrase that never changes and will always be relevant no matter what. “Team first, individual second.” This simple four word phrase has carried me through the dreadful running days, scorching hot games, days when I just wanted to say no, the last five minutes of a game when you really aren’t sure you’re going to make it and so much more. I live by this phrase because I live for my team and my sport.
Some days are harder than others, as you enter college and college athletics things get more intense but there’s also a lot more telling you no. There’s nights when it seems like everyone is going out and having fun but you have to make the conscious effort to say no. Say no to your friends that don’t play the sport and are begging you to go out, no matter how bad you want to go there’s times when you have to say no. The parties will always be there, your friends will always be there but season will not. Game days are limited and the season goes by faster than you could ever imagine. Once those three months of constant practices and game are over you have all the time in the world to go out and do what you want. That’s when the phrase “team first, individual second” comes in. Put your team first, stay in the night before you leave for a game to ensure that you are at the best physical condition possible to be able to fight for your team.
Playing for your team is so much bigger than playing for yourself. Your team does everything they can to support you and make the season as great as possible. You have to be willing to give it back in return. The team is only as good as its weakest link. If someone isn’t up to par then the whole team isn’t. If one person out of 17 isn’t working or doing their part on and off the field it hurts the whole team.
For those who are playing a college or high school sport there are seniors on your team who could be playing their last couple of games of their sport. Play for them. Play for your teammates whose time being part of a team is coming to an end or play for those who wish they could be playing but can’t due to injury. That’s what being a team player is all about, playing for each other and doing whatever it takes to make sure your team is as good as it can be.
Put the team first and your needs or wants second. You want to go out the night before a game? Think about your team, those seniors who are ending their careers as athletes. Being on a team is all about the team as a whole not the individuals. “Team first, individual second” is the way an athlete thinks, the way we work and is the reason why we succeed at what we do.