A team is a rubric of all sorts of different individuals, each with varying degrees of talent, effort, commitment and aspirations, that is then woven together to enjoin in a collaborative, competitive endeavor, guided by a singular purpose and focused on creating something more substantial and enduring than themselves alone.
There are those that reside at a team’s center.
More right around them.
And still others that fill it out all the way to the edges.
But when a team functions at an optimum level, it all stays together. It creates its own energy. And it thinks, speaks and acts as one. All that is needed to make this happen is an investment in one thing:
I can say with reasonable certainty that Jay understands that.
Though he started late in his high school career Jay showed me some football ability. He was willing to expend effort. He made a commitment to the program. And he had high aspirations for the team and for himself. Things any coach could work with and build upon.
During indy at practice, I could count on him to be in the front of the line. When someone was needed to fill in on the sled, Jay jumped in. When a position was empty for scout O or D during team time, Jay filled it. Once sprints began, he consistently pushed himself to finish strong. He stayed after practice to flip the tire. And if there was an opening on a special team? Jay wanted it.
Jay was willing to invest himself to meet the needs of the team – regardless of the potential for return to him.
His attitude, behavior and actions spoke “team first.”
This was not lost on me. And I suspect it was not lost on his teammates either.
Leadership cannot exist or emanate solely from those at the center. Nor should it be reserved for the layers just around them and outward. True leadership is not contingent on who or where it comes from.
Only that it is willing to be present at all times in any circumstance, no matter the personal cost.
In his own way Jay figured out how to exert it and lead.
So when all was said and done his senior year, Jay proved he had the ability to earn his way onto the field.
He expended the effort. Made the commitment. And held firm to his high aspirations.
Even if it took all the way until the closing minutes of the last game of his last season to realize it.
One special play neither he, his teammates nor I will soon forget.
Thank you for your contributions to your teammates, the team and this program.