Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

Halle Backman, Staff writer

As an incoming ninth grader, I was terrified to start high school. There were a few things I was afraid of. What if I got lost in the school? What if I couldn’t make any friends? What if I didn’t know how to do my homework and then failed all my classes?

On top of all that, I saw no reason to join a sports team. That would just be one more thing to add to the stress pile. I didn’t want to join a team, even after several different people told me all the reasons it would benefit me. As someone who was shy and socially awkward at the time, I would have been perfectly happy not to. Or so I thought.

To my great dismay, my mom forced me to join the cross country team, telling me that believe it or not it would be worth it, and I would be going. 

I showed up at practice ready to hate it. 

By the time I left I was already on the journey towards falling in love with it. 

Now, being on a team is my very favorite part of highschool, and I think everyone should experience it. 

A team is a built in support system–a family. It’s a place where you can fit in. You can’t really not fit in on a team, because you will always have at least one thing in common with each other. The fact that you’re all there together. 

It’s easy to feel close to teammates because you work together every day. You go through hard moments together, you have fun together, and that fuses you into something greater. 

“[Being on a team] is a sense of belonging in a big place like this,” Highland Athletics director, Monica French, said. “It makes school less of a chore, and your teammates are great role models–they create a pathway for you.” 

My team is the most important thing in the world to me. When I first came to school, they were familiar faces in the hallway, people to help me find and open my locker or show me where to go if I got lost. They helped me know what to do the first time I went to a dance, they gave me advice and drove me places. They let me borrow their sweatshirts when I was freezing. They made me laugh and were there when I felt like crying. They are a constant support always right there for me. They make my life easier and just overall better. 

If I hadn’t joined a team, I never would have had any of that. 

Because of my team I didn’t have to go through the struggle of finding new friends at school, or be afraid that I wouldn’t know anyone. Because I always knew someone. 

It wasn’t always like that. We had to work on our relationships, just like everyone does, but that is also what made it better. On a team you have to learn how to work with other people that you have no choice but to work with. You have to support each other while also competing against each other. You have to trust and rely and be kind. 

On any team, you learn about strategy, time management, and discipline. You learn how to push yourself and be the best you can be, but also how to be happy for someone else when they excel too. You even do better in school when you’re a part of a team. 

“As a former classroom teacher…and now an athletics director, there is a strong connection between being involved in a sport or activity, and doing well in the classroom.” French said. “It also puts pressure on you to be consistent in school.” 

There are many other life lessons you can learn from being on a team. 

“You know, a sporting event, or being an athlete really mimics so much of the real world. Like, there’s true disappointment. You don’t always succeed, you don’t always win, and you have to deal with that “failure”, and that happens in life, in the real world, and you can prepare to your best to go out and play a game or run your best event, but there’s always going to be variables that you never knew were going to come your way.” French said. “I think when we’re doing sports we’re in a more real world environment than in the classroom, because so many of the environmental conditions have been controlled in the classroom, and that’s not at all true in a sporting event.”

Being on a team just might teach you everything you need to know for life. And it’s fun. This doesn’t just apply to sports. There are other school activities, such as clubs, and even some elective classes that give you the same feel of being on a team. 

You might wonder what makes being on an organized team so different than achieving all these successes on your own? 

The answer is right there in the question. The word “organized”.

“I think sports and activities provide structure and infrastructure where then you know what the expectations are, you feel like you have to live up to some expectations–your coaches expectations and also your peer to peer relationships. And in a less structured environment, you don’t feel that same level of pressure or tension, but you also don’t get the same level of reward by achieving the success that you glean from that successful interaction with your peers.” French said. 

You know, I didn’t want a team. I didn’t think I needed one. But it turns out I did. And I think everyone does. 

I hope everyone can find their own teams. It changes the high school experience from something bearable to something fun and enjoyable. It might seem like there’s nothing out there for you, but there is. You just have to find it.