Recipe for success: ingredients of a strong sports team


photos courtesy of Phil Dolinger, Ellen Weeren and Aria Nagai

Chantilly athletes celebrate their successes on the field, each team building its own community and developing friendships that will last a lifetime. By listening to others and trusting one another, players strengthen the team bonds and work together to be successful.

Aria Nagai, Sports section editor

At every sports event, athletes gather from near and far, competing against each other to determine the best team. But what makes a team? From club teams with players from all around the county, to high school teams with players from different grade levels, students participate in a myriad of sports and build friendships and create bonds on their teams. 

“One of the biggest things that makes a good sports team is being able to trust not only your teammates but your coaches,” senior and football player William Hughes said. “People say ‘Trust the process’ is cliche, but I think it’s actually an important thing that benefits any sports team. If you’re able to trust what your coaches are telling you, then you can be patient and you’ll see the results pay off later.”

Within the team, having a balance of different kinds of players can help build chemistry and establish a solid dynamic.

“There are some people who are good leaders and some who are better followers,” senior and baseball player Evan Carper said. “The leaders need to step up and know their roles and be a role model for the younger guys on the team.”

While many sports are team-oriented in terms of playing together, some sports such as swimming and cross country are more individual. However, at the high school level, even with these individual-oriented sports, school teams provide athletes with the opportunity to come together with their classmates to share their love of the sport.

“We all warm up and run in groups together during practice, and we talk a lot, so it helps build friendships,” freshman and cross country runner Haley Roth said. “Even though I’m a freshman, I still feel like I know everyone on the team really well through the bond of running together.”

On a team, strong leadership is essential to unite the players and provide athletes with role models, guiding the team to victory and establishing a sense of community and family.

“Having good leadership and good captains that can take players under their wing to make them feel comfortable is an important element in being successful,” swim and dive head coach and social studies teacher James MacKenzie said. “Bringing people in within the scheme of the team, but also allowing them to maintain their individual quirks, really helps to build a strong team.”

Throughout the season, good habits establish a certain culture within the team, which is evident in the dedication and hard work put into every practice and game. 

“The team really bonds after the first week or two because we are pretty much spending every hour of every afternoon after school together,” Carper said. “We have team dinners, and lots of players are coming early to practice and staying late, helping build a good community.”

In the end, the bond created through playing sports together is a bond like no other, going through the ups and downs of the season together, celebrating your wins and learning from your losses. The success of teams can be attributed to the relationship between players and coaches working toward a common goal. 

“It’s important to take accountability not only for yourself, but for your teammates,” Hughes said. “Being able to trust our coaches has really paid off for us, and I hope everyone can see that this year on the field.”