When I was a Freshman in high school, I had a couple of experiences that had a lot to do with shaping who I am today. I was born into a football family. My Grandfather was a coach at the local community college, my father had been the quarterback of the year in Orange County when he was in high school, and my brothers were both starting on varsity as sophomores. Needless to say, there were high expectations for me as I showed up on day one. So naturally I was moved up to JV as a Freshman. I thought that the road was paved for me and it was only a matter of time before I became the starting running back on Varsity. However, what I didn't anticipate was that I was not ready. After a few weeks, I was moved down to the freshman team. This was a humbling experience.
On the Freshman team I expected to start immediately but instead I had to earn my position. The coaches were hard on me, knowing that I had the raw talent, but needed to develop the fundamentals. They would challenge me, and I would say to myself, "I am going to do everything that it takes to exceed all expectations." It was a slow start but I bought into what the coaches were saying. I started to realize that if I was willing to work hard and be a leader on my team, success would follow. I learned that I could do nothing without the respect of my teammates and our combined effort. This learning experience paid off. I dedicated myself to being a team player and working hard year around. In my time I broke records at the school but that didn't matter as much as our team's accomplishments. We won our league multiple times and won a section championship. It was more rewarding to accomplish our goals together than to receive any personal accolades.
The other experience was in band. I loved music and I was committed to being in the band while also playing football. I would play on Friday and then march with my tuba on Saturday. But what I didn't realize at first was that band was just as much of a team activity as football. I thought I was playing music for myself because I loved it, but my teacher showed me that it meant way more than that. I was goofing off one day in band and my teacher stopped the whole class in the middle of the song. He sternly told me, "This is not all about you. If you think it is, then this is not the place for you."At first I was angry because he embarrassed me, but it didn't take me long to realize he was right. He ended up being one of the most influential people in my young life and I have memories with the music program that I will never forget.
These two events had a profound impact on my time in high school and consequently the rest of my life. Sports and Clubs helped me to realize that hard work, commitment, team work, and sacrifice are important ingredients to success. These experiences also taught me that you can accomplish more as a team and it is much more fulfilling to do things for others rather than doing them for yourself.
This is why I think it is so important that we challenge students to be involved outside of the classroom. Students need to be connected and active in something that is not self serving. If they put time into something other than what is required, they will be the ones going above and beyond in their career rather than clocking in and clocking out.
Students need to learn how to triumph through adversity, practice to improve, and try again when they make mistakes. If our students learn the values of team work and commitment, they are more likely to be successful. If they learn to serve others and work for a common goal, they will be prepared for whatever comes their way. I am privileged enough to see this happening everyday at my school. And I am reminded that there was a time when I was learning those same lessons. Leading is Teaching.