Some of my fondest memories of competing in sports are from being on a school team.
Playing for my school taught me the values of team spirit, hard work, and pride in my accomplishments.
It taught me how to be a good winner, a good loser, and how to learn and improve from both experiences.
While I don’t believe that every kid who plays should get a trophy, I do believe that every kid who shows they have the abilities to effectively compete in a particular sport should make their school team.
Even if a player does not get a chance to compete in their rookie season, if their abilities are such that they can successfully practice and train with players who are already on the team from previous years (aka, upperclassmen), I believe the benefits derived from such an experience is beneficial for both the individual players as well as the team as a whole.
As a young athlete, I was fortunate to have coaches who understood the concept of planting seeds for future harvests.
These coaches were experienced and knowledgeable; they recognized that I was a good player. They knew that as a freshman, even though I may not necessarily be able to be put in a game that season, that I would still be a valuable asset to the team as a practice partner with the other players.
My coaches also knew that such exposure would help to improve me as a player and eventually allow me the opportunity to become a vital part of a winning team.
As an adult, parent, and coach, I am in disagreement with current school policies that limit the number of players on a team. Policies that force schools to turn away qualified players who try out for a team in order to accommodate individuals (upperclassmen) to be assured they retain a spot on the team.
I feel it should be the responsibility of a school to provide students the opportunity to excel scholastically as well as athletically and to encouraged them to achieve and succeed to their utmost abilities.
It angers me that qualified players are being told they did not make the cut simply because there are not enough spots on the team for them to compete!
Being part of a team—especially a school team—is not just about competing and winning games. it is about camaraderie, team spirit, and pride.
The self-confidence I acquired in my youth from participating and competing in school athletics has transcended itself to assisting me to succeed in my endeavors as an adult. It is something that cannot be learned from a book or taught in a classroom. It can only be gained from the experience of being a team player.
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.