The Power of Teamwork: Part 1

Jun 20, 2011
Tagged with:

You are a five-year old child, who is shoved into days of soccer practice, clarinet lessons, and Girl Scout cookies in hopes that you learn one very simple concept that you can’t necessarily get directly from your chauffeuring parents: Teamwork. As you grow, you continue to learn about communicating with others and working together in almost everything that you do. Why? Because, it’s that important.

To be able to work with a group of people on projects or field goals or even vocal harmonies is an uncertain task at times. Having to give up a part of yourself to fit in the talents of others, all the while putting in your best sense of accomplishment is a challenge for anyone to engage in. However, learning the skills to be able to coexist with others is like slowly spilling separate, contrasting colors into a paint bucket only to anticipate the most beautiful and innovative shade one could imagine. It is more than a skill, it is—or should be—an extremely important facet of all life.

I have always struggled with collaborating as a team. For I was not one of those 5-year olds kicking soccer balls and tooting woodwinds, nor was I ever inclined to give my “Scout’s honor” to anyone. I just didn’t grow up with those lessons. I grew up in the pool, where, even though you swam for a team and cheered for your teammates, once you dove in it was just that—you and the pool. Because of this I have struggled in team sports like sled hockey and wheelchair basketball in recent years. The appropriate mental status, although incredibly desired, just wasn’t there. I tried to get into the huddle and understand the method of passing balls and pucks, but truly I just wanted to silence the nonsense and just shoot the stupid thing myself.

This lack of cooperation has sent me straight back to the pool, where I feel safe and comfortable and partially alone. However, I am beginning to see that this isn’t necessarily so.

My alter ego is made up of a serious and seriously competitive athlete, whom by a stroke of luck and a dash of discipline has found herself a member of the US Parapan Am Games Team this year. Wow!  A team—complete with the suit and the cap and the warm-ups to prove it. However, it wasn’t until now, less than a week before I leave for training camp, that I realize the importance of this modestly deserved title. Now, even though I will still be swimming races simply against myself and the clock, I will now be doing so as a representative of not only the US, but the US Paralympics organization as well. Before I puke all over my computer from the thought of the pressure that lies between these typed words, I will take a moment to listen to the most wise part of my brain that tells me that there is power in teamwork. Sans puke, I can now smile because I am ready to learn and to understand more about this power in numbers.

I promise myself that I will use this new knowledge I gain to not only make me a better competitor and individual, but also a better teammate; which is precisely the subtle goal for this week.

Moreover, in the not-so-distant future I will also strive to take in all I have learned to further aspects well beyond these athletic adventures, so stay tuned to where the power of teamwork may guide me next.

Author: Ryan McLean