The Power of Teamwork: Part 2

Jun 27, 2011
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As I sit here, on a fairly monochrome twin bed somewhere in the right kidney of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I can take a breath of knowledge and feel that my concept of teamwork is being transformed, much in the way that I anticipated.

Now, I have always understood the shear importance and being able to collaborate and function as a unit; but somehow I think that I had lost that example of it somewhere in the last decade of attempting to become a grown-up.

This past weekend I was involved not only in a Paralympic swim meet, but also a training camp as a member of the Parapan American Games to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico this coming November. In the matter minutes after arriving, I was given a roommate and thrown in a pool to begin getting to know the other (assigned) teammates paddling around me. One of the most fantastic aspects about Para sports is that there is so much heart put into it, in a manner that most sports could only provide the temporary tattoo version of the real thing.

Athletes that have found themselves in the midst of disabled sports each have a story to be told. They have all had to fight some sort of inner demon and rise beyond their own body and fears and expectations. These athletes come in all sizes and shapes and beauties and journeys, all managing to find their way to a sport that they feel welcomed by.

Mine just so has to be swimming, but the dynamic is much the same whether your sport is with water or without.

I have become a team with people from all over the country. Together, we have become a team of amputees, spinal cord injuries, vision impairments, dwarfism, and other malformations that combine to create quite a spectrum of stories. Together, we have raced for our team and found commonalities. Together, we have helped each other down the stairs, through doorways, and into one another’s lives.

This team has been a team for a little over two days now, but it is clear that in order to be considered a team you must share a few key elements. Your team must be working towards a common goal, with hearts singing in harmony and joy. Your team must be built upon passion and support, in a way that works for everyone. Your team must find ways to communicate and challenge one another in the best way that each one knows how. This team subtly understands these notions and is determined to continue to achieve through the spirit of working with one another.

Most importantly, everyone has a team; whether it be one selected by a Paralympic committee or designed by your boss in the big office. You make teams with those closest to you as well as those whom you feel obligated to. Whatever the case, that sense of teamwork is threaded deeply within our human identities; and it should be embraced as so, because of the ultimate power that can be held when you open yourself to others and are bold enough to become such a team.

Author: Ryan McLean