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Sole Sport Support

When people think of sports, they think of teamwork involved with high school sports. However, there are a surplus of sports that don’t need teamwork to operate. Some examples of these sports include swimming, track, tennis, golf, and wrestling. The athletes who participate in these types of sports play individually and don’t have to worry about teamwork. But that could be proven wrong through many different perspectives of the people who play and coach these sports. Successful team unity can lead to an excellent motivation source for athletes. So, how do coaches of these individual sports work to gain team unity while also putting enough focus into the performance of their athletes? Head coach of the cross country and track teams, Jamin Swift weighs in on this balance.
“We put 95% of our efforts into building team unity through our training process. The competition and performance part falls into place with a great team atmosphere,” said Swift.
Having unity exercises embedded into the regular practices allows coaches to mix the goal of having both team unity and good team unity. John Plankers, head of both the girls’ and boys’ golf team also speaks on the coaching balance of the two.
“A good balance to always try and strike. We always focus on a bigger goal and big picture and then work daily to achieve it every day. We foster that by setting clear expectations, and working towards that common goal,” said Plankers.
This is excellent for a program if a coach properly balances both these practices. However, what does it actually do for the athletes? Sophomore Rhyenne Jones who is on the school’s track and field team speaks on why it is important for athletes of an individual sport to have team camaraderie.
“Even though we all work individually, we are all trying to win overall, so we need team unity to accomplish our goal. It’s also good to have team chemistry so it is more fun,” said Jones.
Team chemistry is very important to have as a team, as it allows for athletes to be pushed. Aubree Bell, assistant coach of the swim team, divulges why team chemistry is so important to have.
“I think that team chemistry and skill are both extremely important and both are valuable pieces to being a successful team. It is hard to compete and win matches if the team does not build each other up,” said Bell.
Also to advocate for team chemistry, the head coach of the boys wrestling team, Brett Barbarick, speaks on how team leaders are the biggest contributors to if a team has team chemistry or not.
“Great teams are led not by coaches but by the teammates themselves. I try to help our team leaders to become better team leaders which hopefully leads to better chemistry,” said Barbarick.
Well-rounded team leadership can also help this chemistry blossom. Senior Mandy Butscher is the captain of the girls’ swim team and also competes on the school’s tennis team. Butscher provides her unique perspective on the balance between relationships and performance as a college-bound athlete.
“For me, I am going to swim in college so I need to work on my performance more than others may need to. And if I have good relationships then I will actually look forward to practice,” said Butscher.
The head of both the girls and boys’ tennis teams, Derek Howard, speaks on how he believes student-athletes relate to each other on the courts.
“At first I think there are some that will join tennis because of their friends, but this usually changes. Hitting a great shot in tennis feels amazing, and can become addictive. By their sophomore year, most of our kids start to become concerned about their actual game, and where they will fall on our competitive ladder,” said Howard.
Sophomore Marlie Surls, who runs in both cross country and track and field speaks on how she believes team unity has a play in the relationships between athletes outside of the sport.
“I think team unity is important because your team is like a second family and they are the people that you can always count on. You spend so much time with these people that they become your lifelong friends,” said Surls.
Assistant coach of the girl’s golf team, Kim Kruse, speaks on the advantages of achieving team unity during the season and how it may affect the growth of athletes.
“Coaching a team that has achieved unity is much more fun. Team unity provides an opportunity to grow together and provide an atmosphere of the desire to work together and get better individually and collectively,” said Kruse.
Although the sports may be on an individual level, it cannot be discounted that the relationships made on and off the field can be a giant factor on how well an athlete performs come game day. Team unity can determine if a team can perform well as a whole even though all the athletes are competing individually. Team unity is a must for all sports teams, and that is especially true for sports that don’t even require a team to function.

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Nathaniel Gibbs
Nathaniel Gibbs, Staffer

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