Athlete: A Team Divided will Fall!

One of the roles of your coach and teammates is to push you to become better.  Healthy competition among each other creates opportunities for each of you to grow in athletic skills and performance outside of regular competition with team opponents.

It’s not personal, it’s for the team.

From my last post, I told you about the meeting with my coach after my first season at UAB.  Recall he said,

“I’m going to be honest with you.  I really don’t think that you are going to be a major factor on the team next year.  You see, we’ve got some really good players coming in next year and they are playing at the level you are playing at right now.”

 Then he said, “You might play a little, but I doubt you play at all.”

When I left that meeting, my coach and teammates, the future and present ones at the time, became my enemies.  They all became my enemies.

My thoughts were,

Shoot, don’t nobody care about me.  He don’t care about me.  If he did he wouldn’t replace me like that.

I became determined not to make it easy for anyone to take my spot.  I couldn’t care about them anymore.  Which meant, I wasn’t going to help them.

So, the next season, my sophomore year, I stopped smiling and hanging with anyone who was a part of my team.  As far as I was concerned, I had to take care of me.  So, everything became about me.

Me!  Me! Me! Me! Me!

I became more of an athlete with a selfish attitude then a teammate out for the good of my team.  I was concerned only for me and not for the needs or feelings of others.  Most of my actions were concentrated on pleasing myself, sometimes at the expense of others.  My main objective was to show everybody, especially my coach and teammates that I could play.

I had taken my coach’s efforts as personal attacks on my ability to play.  However, he was just trying to motivate me to improve, to become a better player by introducing the thought of competition.

It worked from an individual standpoint.  I improved.  But, from a team’s perspective, a selfish player weakens the team.


Because it becomes two sets of goals – selfish player’s goals and then the team’s goals.  A team divided most likely will fall.  The selfish player is a part of the weak link.

I encourage you to become an unselfish teammate by setting your mind on what is best for your team; allowing your teammates to be in the spotlight; helping your teammates when you can; being considerate of your teammates’ differences; allowing your teammates to have an opinion; and being eager to listen and follow your coaches’ instructions.

What is the last thing you helped your teammate to do?

Let me know at Athlete’s Voice to Integrity (

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To the College Athlete on a Team: How are you going to be in your next year?

The next year of your career is coming.  It represents a new level of your life and will have new things for you to master.  In order to position yourself to be among the best in your sport and professional career, you have to work to master important things at the level you are currently on, and prepare for advancement to your next level, as well.   Learning everything that you need to know at each respective level helps in preparing you for the next.

It was my freshman year at UAB and I was playing in the point guard position in a game.

As I dribbled down the court, all I could think of was to get the ball down the court and get rid of it.  The ball was like a hot potato in my hands. 

It seemed that whenever I played point, our opponents always applied more pressure or full court pressed us.

 I was not ready.  I was inexperienced and it showed.  My teammates had no confidence in me and neither did I.

My sophomore year was a little better.

My junior and senior years were totally different.  We were rarely full court pressed.  I had gained more experience and I was prepared. 


Because I had learned that each year of your career brings new challenges to conquer.   You will have to master key things at one level, in order for the transition to the next to be smoother and prepare you for those challenges that await you at the next.

Therefore, accomplishing or fulfilling what your team requires of you in a specific year, makes it less difficult for you to step into your new role as an upper classman in the next year.

Your coach and teammates will expect you to lead and be able to take on a more responsible role on the team.

If not, you risk falling behind.

I encourage you to determine what skills, personal character etc. you need to have to be successful at the current stage of your career and try to develop them.  Do this by talking with your coach and also by paying attention to other teams, especially those athletes and teams that are winning.  Notice how your counterparts perform.  Observe how they are treated by their coaches and other members of their team.  See what is required of them.  Also, do the same to determine what it would take for you to be successful in your next year.  Include studying your teammates who are upper classmen.

Never reach a state where you are not growing.

You should always be seeking knowledge and learning everything that will prepare you for your next level.

Remember all knowledge that you acquire from the previous levels of your career should be applied to the subsequent levels of your career.  This includes knowledge obtained from both competitive and academic experiences.

If executed correctly, you should see improvement in your athletic skills, and personal character, and should be getting closer to obtaining your degree.

Are you getting ready for the next year in your career?

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Letters to the College Athlete on a Team: Do you have SELF-CONTROL?

Part of being responsible means exercising self-control.  This includes your actions and your speech in response to your emotions.  An example would be controlling yelling in response to anger and frustration as a result of being unable to do something, or because something is more difficult to accomplish than you expect.

To be successful you have to be mindful of your actions and speech and how each affects the people around you.  What you say can uplift or motivate, or it can tear down, or ruin someone, an organization, or even you.


 “Come on, you got to catch the ball!”  I yelled at my teammate. She had missed the ball 3 times already. 

We were down 10 points, and no one on the team could seem to score. 

We weren’t getting rebounds.  So, we weren’t getting second chances at shots.

“D***n!” I screamed.  I missed a layup. 

Nothing got better.  I kept missing easy shots and my teammate still couldn’t catch the ball. 

We lost.


This was a familiar scene similar to basketball games that I played in at UAB.

This is the perfect example where anger and frustration ruled my actions and speech.  It is an example of lack of self-control.  As a result of lack of control of my actions and speech in response to my emotions, my team’s position in the game did not improve.  Nor did it make my teammates any more comfortable or confident.

Exercising self-control in your actions and speech when emotional influences are present, helps you concentrate on finding solutions instead of focusing on problems.  It supports an environment of order and calmness.

On a team, self-control allows you to make sound decisions with everyone at attention and listening because there are no distracting emotional actions to interfere with effective communication between members.  It allows you to consider consequences which will enable you to produce the desired outcome – to win.

Self-control reveals confidence, an attitude that can spread throughout your team.

Being responsible means making sound decisions.  To help make those decisions, I encourage you to begin exercising self-control of your actions and speech during competition.  Recognize when you begin to feel frustrated or angry.  Start to exercise thinking quickly on what words to say to uplift and what not to say.  Think about what actions to take, or not to take, to calm your teammates.

What you say and how you act have consequences.  Make sure those consequences are positive and for the benefit of your team.

What do you do when you get upset during competition?  How do your teammates react?  Comment below.


Letters to College Athletes on a Team: Are you the BOSS?

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By Geraline L. Handsome

On the way to discovering your identity, you will be associated with many others in college that are also trying to find theirs.  Among these are your fellow teammates.  They are trying to develop the personal attributes they need to be successful in college and beyond, just as you are.  Therefore, it is important that you not hinder their process of finding their identity.

Have you ever heard this?  “You’re not the boss of me!  You don’t tell me what to do!”

Did it come from a sibling or someone else?

Have you ever said it or thought it?  How did you feel?  Did you feel constrained?

Well, I was the one who heard it.  Being the oldest of 7, 5 boys and 2 girls, I was the boss.  With that position came much responsibility.  What I said, went!  It was my way, and there was no highway.  I was the boss and ‘always had to be right.’  I had to be, because being wrong meant trouble- for everybody!

From this experience, I developed an attitude of disrespect toward others.  Unfortunately, I carried this attitude to college.

How was this disrespectful?  Read on.

My basketball teammates became my siblings.  When situations, on and off the court, were not going as though I thought they should, I took charge.  I was ‘right’ all the time.  My opinion was the only one that counted.  I knew what was best for us.

At least that’s what I thought………

Was I wrong?

In retrospect, yes.

I did not know that true leadership involved having respect for people.

I had to learn that part of respecting others means listening to, understanding, and getting to know them.

I had to learn that it means expecting people to do their best.

I had to learn that it means including others in making decisions that involve them.

I had to learn that it means helping to create an environment that encourages growth in others as well as yourself.  One that would not be limited by the knowledge and talent of one person.

For instance, my teammates had scholarships to play women’s basketball just as I did, and therefore, knew about as much or more than I in some areas.  Respect for them would have allowed me to get to know them – their strengths and weaknesses – not to control them, but to harmonize with them to make us a better team.

Many of you will go on to be in leadership positions.  I encourage you to make respecting others a part of your identity so that you will become the great leader that’s inside you!  Begin by respecting your teammates by getting to know them and allowing them the freedom to express themselves.

Did anyone every tell you that you were bossy growing up?  I would love to hear about it.