Teens: Choose Your Team Wisely

Choosing the most talented and skilled players is a recipe for a winning team, right? Maybe sometimes, but not always. A recent experience taught me how choosing the right players is more important than choosing the “best” players.

At our school, where students live for about 12 months, the teams are typically divided by the homes they live on. One year we decided that, to make the teams more even, it would be best to hold a draft for our softball season. Four students were selected to be team captains and participate in the draft. James (name has been changed), a talented baseball player who had played for club leagues before enrolling at our school, was one of the captains. During the draft James seemed to put much more thought into his selections and didn’t always choose the next “best” or most talented player.

After the draft James approached each individual student on his team and told them he had specifically chosen them and that they were needed to make the team successful. Students on his team quickly took to James as a leader as he made time to patiently teach skills and strategy. James later asked me if I had seen the movie “Moneyball.” He told me he had strategically chosen the players on his team; he didn’t choose kids with the most talent, he chose those who were teachable and who would be team players.

Early in the season it became apparent that James’ team was the strongest. Students on other teams said it wasn’t fair that James’ team was “stacked.” When I pointed out the talent and skill levels of the individuals compared with other teams it was obvious his team wasn’t more talented, they were organized and unified, all working toward a common goal. James’ team ended up easily winning the championships that year.

When it was time for James to return home I thought how important it will be for James to choose his “team” wisely. I hope he will choose friends who will have a positive influence on his life, who will help him become more than he could otherwise be without their support. Quality teammates might not necessarily be the popular kids in school, they are certainly not the bullies. Quality team members will be those who are striving to be the best they can be, who are also teachable and who want the best for their friends as well. For his team to be successful he will want to make sure to include positive adult role models including parents, teachers, coaches and others.

Teenagers – be intentional when choosing those in your circle of influence. Evaluate whether those you associate with will help achieve your long-term goals. When your team is strong enough you will be able to accomplish things you couldn’t do on your own. You will also inspire, motivate and be a positive influence in the lives of others.