USA Field Hockey NEWS Become the Leader Yo...

Become the Leader Yourself

By Abby Ezickson, USA Field Hockey Contributing Writer & Sidwell Friends School Junior Student-Athlete, Washington D.C. | Dec. 10, 2020, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

Images Courtesy of Susie Schaefer

Disclaimer: USA Field Hockey does not promote or encourage the usage of protective eyewear in the sport of field hockey or at any held National Events.

There is one minute left in the championship game. You are playing your rival school and the crowd is screaming. It’s tied 3-3 and your team has an opportunity to take a penalty corner. Who is going to step up? Who is going to stay composed and guide your team through the last minute?  

The importance of leadership on and off the field is something that will follow you through your entire career as a field hockey athlete. What is a team without a leader? Who is going to take that extra step to bring the group together? It doesn’t have to be the captain, a senior or the most skilled player on your team.

It can be you.

A true leader can be shown when he/she goes above and beyond to show their love for their teammates. The most stereotypical leader is one who may be yelling on the field or giving half-time pep talks. Usually, there is a sort of hierarchy that comes along with high school sports programs, meaning seniors and/or captains are automatically seen as the leaders. While they might be most experienced or qualified, that does not mean you cannot take initiative to become a leader for yourself, and for the entirety of your team.

Of course, the entire team cannot account for themselves as leaders. Although, you must lead yourself before you can lead others. You must stay committed. You must maintain confidence and composure in difficult situations. You cannot wait around for someone to step up. I know how scary it is to try to talk or take action in front of seniors or captains when you are a freshman. But I challenge all you athletes out there to confront those norms and take on those responsibilities yourself. A team requires leaders, but not all of them have to be starting on the field every single game. There are numerous other ways in which YOU can lead. Your work will not go unnoticed and may bring the unit together in ways you never thought.

So, what are some ways you can lead your team off the field? Bringing the entirety of the squad together is crucial when translating to on field play. Maybe you go up to a new player and ask how they are doing, or give them your phone number and tell them to text you whenever they need help with anything. Maybe you cheer every single person on during practice, not just your friends. Maybe you can organize outside of school dinners, or address your teammates in the hallways. These efforts may be small, but they will be sure to develop you into a leader.

Now of course, in these unprecedented times these things may not be possible. With COVID-19 drastically altering all athletes' seasons, it is now of the utmost importance that you communicate and make your teammates feel included. Whether it is a socially distanced practice with masks, or even over Zoom, take the initiative yourself!

I encourage you, as a high school athlete and leader myself, to think of ideas that may make somebody's day, improve their stick skills or even make them feel more of a part of the team. If you are reading this, I want you to do one thing right now that may benefit the group. This could be anything. Being a leader can be hard, and intimidating, but you have four high school seasons. As you all know, your team becomes your extended family. Don’t take these things for granted. Take risks, work hard, and always be kind.