I learned many valuable lessons while playing sports in high school and in college. Many of the skills I learned in a team setting are skills I still use every day in the work place. Learning and working under a head coach is not very different from working under a boss. Working with teammates and other athletes is not very different from working alongside coworkers. Here are some of the things that I learned while playing sports at St. Paul’s and later on in college.
In a classroom, my grades are my own. They are only a reflection of my personal effort. My emotions are completely up to me to control. I found that in almost every area of my life I determined the outcome. This could not be further from the truth when it comes to sports and athletics. On the volleyball court, win or lose, the results are based on the effort of the entire team. Being part of a team brings a new level of camaraderie to the teammates. Working hard towards a common goal—to improve and to win—helps us to form stronger bonds with those around us. I learned quickly that when one person on my team improved, or when one person on my team made a good play, it benefitted the entire team. In this way, I saw the value of helping others. If I could help one of my teammates, I was helping the whole team. If I was helping the whole team, I was also helping myself. It also taught me that there is no place for jealousy on a team. If my teammate does extremely well, that benefits me. I can always work harder and practice more and learn from my teammates. There is no reason to feel belittled by another’s success. A win for one player is a win for the entire team!
Playing sports also taught me about hard work and perseverance. There were many days when my body was tired, my muscles were sore, or I was not in the best mood. I found that if I allowed myself to slack off in practice, or pay less attention to my coach, I did not perform at a high level when game time came around. My day-to-day work ethic in practice determined my overall level of play when the real competition started. I had to learn to leave whatever may have happened that day off the court at every practice and give all of my attention and effort to the task at hand. This allowed me to bring the best version of myself to each game, not just for myself, but also for my teammates. They always counted on me and I always counted on them!
All of this translates perfectly into the work environment. Very few jobs are completely solitary. Often, the tasks that I complete at work are done in tandem with a coworker, or teammate. All of the tasks that I am given to complete come from my boss, the coach. The people skills that I learned playing sports are skills that I still need in every day life. I still need to encourage and help my teammates. I still need to do my best at work so I do not let my teammates down. I still win when my teammates win. When I do well, it helps them too. These are just a few of the many life lessons and skills that I learned while playing sports at St. Paul’s.