The Growth Of a Team
Seventeen Boys And There Growth In A Season
“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” -Bear Bryant
It was a day to remember and the end of a great season that proved to me how far we had come as a team and above all it was a day of memories. We knew the challenges that were ahead of us, but we were ready to take them on together. The Eaglebrook tournament was the final hoorah, the end of our season, which we would test what how we grew as a team.
The day began with a cruelly early departure time — 6:15am — but despite having had out sleep cut short, we were eager to head out to the annual Eaglebrook soccer tournament at Deerfield. The crisp cold air of the morning must have energized us though, because each new player stepped on the bus with a sense of purpose and nervous anticipation as we headed across the state. Over the next 12 hours, we would demonstrate just how far we had come as a team. The day was long yet full of rewards: our challenge was to play six twenty-minute games throughout the day, and win. Star, our brilliant coach, had hyped up the Eaglebrook tournament as the culmination of our collective effort since the first day of practice. He had set a timer early this fall with a countdown to Eaglebrook and now we had finally arrived as a stronger and more coordinated team. From the outset, we didn’t waste time and quickly capitalized on open nets. Our energy was electric in our first game and it carried our spirit throughout the day — contending with their offense and counter-attacking their net. We battled through a hard-fought contest and managed to pull away with a win, but it was little comfort because we knew the games would only get harder from there, the competitiveness of our rivals would grow more fierce and their energy would be harder to break. Eaglebrook’s varsity team knew the field and had mastered the conditions of playing in the frosty 40 degree temperature, but we rallied to give it what we needed. As part of the defense, I worked with my team to capitalize on our strengths and make sure we didn’t let in a goal. We poured our souls into the game, we pushed ourselves our bodies further than we had ever done before. By the end of the game, ours arms and legs were covered in grass and dirt, but we didn’t care because it was Eaglebrook and we didn’t want to give up any goals. Unfortunately, our confidence took a hit soon after that when subsequent games were filled with tie scores and a loss or two. Those teams were bigger, faster and stronger than the majority of our team, yet we didn’t back down we pushed ourselves till the last minute. Our offense wasn’t able to put many goals on the board, which resulted in being ranked lower than we had hoped for. The defense made up for this while, but we weren’t able to put points on the board by proving how we had grown as a defensive unit. Despite the outcome at Eaglebrook, as a team we played better defensively than we ever had before.
Our growth as a defensive team was inspiring to me because defense had persistently challenged us throughout the season and ultimately emerged as our greatest strength at the tournament. We drew strength from this, and as a team we built on the energy of our teammates. We had transformed from a group with little to no chemistry in September, struggling to clear and counterattack, to become not only a cohesive team, but also a group that was able to effectively defend and react to the what was happening in the game and aim toward the pressing goal of winning. On top of that, we became a group friends who also enjoyed each other’s company. The power of Eaglebrook was that we took what we had learned from the season and proved how much we had grown. While it wasn’t the outcome we had hoped for, the day while forever be a warm memory surrounded by laughs and smiles.
As a team we can look back and remember that together we are stronger. Unifying with others toward a common purpose is an important life lesson that can be applied to so many areas. Life will throw things at us unexpectedly, but the strengths we all hold together will yield stronger, better communities.