Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Playing For Each Other As a Factor in Success

There's been an aspect of this season's Seawolves team that I've discussed outside the blog with other UAA fans but haven't really addressed here at length.  Today though, I'd like to do that.  I've heard it said and wouldn't begin to disagree that this years Seawolves team is a very tightly knit group of players.  Perhaps more than any recent group.

Over the years I've been writing about the Seawolves here, I've noticed that there hasn't often been any real dissension in the player ranks.  It's got to be rare that a group of 25+ young men come together on a sports team and have zero conflicts.  And I'm quite sure over the past 5 or 6 years that such personal conflicts have been the case within the UAA squad.  Hell, you can't love everybody.  Even those people that love to throw the "I love everybody" ethos blithely around ... don't really.  In any case, it seems to have been the exception here at UAA.

In a situation where you're surrounded by the same group of people frequently, someone is going to rub you the wrong way for one reason or another.  Remember the Brett Arcand-Kootenay/Lee Green incident?  That's some extreme dissension in the ranks.  That said, I haven't heard of anything remotely like that sort of thing with this years Seawolves; just the opposite in fact.  I have the sense that these guys really get along splendidly off the ice.  Consequently it's showing on the ice.

Win or lose, these guys have stuck together as a team.  The hockey phrase you hear (and I'm sure it's not exclusive to the sport) is "they play for each other".  This team does exactly that.  There doesn't appear to be any individual ego anywhere within the squad.  I'm in no way what I would consider "close" to the team ... so saying all this might be a bit of a leap.  I'm basing it instead of what other people have told me.  But the people that have told me this are indeed very close to the team.

The close camaraderie of a team is an oft noted characteristic in any sport when describing the reasons for their success.  There is certainly some humility and sportsmanship associated with players who say such things to the media about their team's success.  But that aside, it is a truth.  I played sports long enough to know that the more dudes on your team you get on with and like, the more likely it is that you as an individual will make some play selflessly for the benefit of the whole.  

In one sense, it's an altruistic act.  And altruism is probably the biggest factor in the original creation of human communities 80,000 years ago.  We all know deep down that we accomplish more with the help of others.  When we know that our counterparts are willing to subvert their own temporary personal gain for the sake of the community, we become willing to do exactly the same thing.  And that force of community is always more powerful than what we can bring to bear on our own.

I love seeing the examples of selfless play that this team has exhibited over the course of the season.  I'd be all ears to hear someone make the case that there is a team in college hockey that has blocked more shots than the Seawolves.  Because I don't think that could possibly be.  I likewise doubt there are many teams with so many guys who consistently adhere to roles which dictate they'll get little or no individual recognition ever.  These Seawolves do these things for each other every night they play.

Such selfless altruistic efforts "for each other" do not guarantee success.  But success doesn't come to a team without them.  I'm happy now that I took time to highlight this.  Continue to "play for each other" guys ... when you combine that with playing up to your potential and good execution you'll be successful.


BBEF said...

CC coach Owens gave a shout out to Shiyak and the team during the coach’s show tonight. He gave specific props to the blue line. He also seemed to like the idea of going home after last week and brining clothes for a trip to the F5.


Vicky Pustin said...

Donald, great article! I can only speak from what Mark has told me that everyone on the team has been more than welcoming to the incoming freshmen from day 1. I think when the guys actually get along it makes the team stronger. I have nothing but great things to say about all the players my mom and I met over parents weekend. The guys really seem to take care of one another and I'm happy to say that most of them will be together for the next 3 years.

Donald Dunlop said...

Thanks so much for commenting. It was my genuine pleasure to meet both you and your mom. I look forward to meeting parents and family every season and interacting. You and your mom's gregariousness made quite an impression on me.

Last season after 4 years I finally got a chance to meet Nils Backstroms parents. Coming over here from Sweden wasn't exactly a regular thing. When I shook his mom's hand we had a memorable exchange.

I said, "I want you to know how much we love Nils here"
She said, "Thanks, and I as well love him very much"
I said, "But your his mom, you have to love him. We don't have to but we do"

I carry similar memories from all the parents I meet and to be honest it's one of the things that helps me write this blog. I have my own 18 year old who'll be going off to school next season. I'm busy right now looking for a blogger who'll give me a sense of how well she does on her History Class presentations and also review her foreign language performances.

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