Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Little Things (Part III): Index Cards

It's the little things.

Part I

Part II

I played the 2011 season with Molly Brown.  I was a rookie on a talented, veteran team and my one responsibility (which I shirked) was to bring the med kit to practices and tournaments.  It was incredibly freeing and refreshing for me to focus solely on playing, and to be welcomed with open arms to a new ultimate community.  This group of people was the best part of my one year in Colorado, and I miss them daily.


One of our team's focuses that season was our mental toughness.  It had been four years since the Colorado women's team had cracked the Quarterfinals at Nationals, and the team was determined to break that trend.  At one training session, we each wrote down three skills / attributes that we value about ourselves as players (or that we aspire to have) on an index card.  We were encouraged to keep that card in our field bag for the rest of the season.

One of our most veteran players and skilled throwers tore her ACL mid-season, which was both a blow to our team both on and off the field.  Toward the end of the season, she wrote her own index card for each of us.  I have no idea whether any of my teammates kept their card, but for me it was empowering to know what this teammate valued about me.  I had struggled to find my role on a new team with an abundance of offensive handlers, and that card gave me great confidence.

That card stays in my field bag to this day and during my own team's struggles this season, I took a page from my teammate's book and wrote a card for every player on my team.  The exercise was about my teammates and wanting to demonstrate my confidence in them, but it was also a valuable reminder for me about why I value each of them.

I brought this exercise to the University of Rochester girls when I paid them a visit last week.  It was the last session of a long weekend, and for a team experiencing the growing pains of developing into a program, I thought it could help give them some perspective heading into the remainder of their season.  I had each player write a card for themselves, and then I had them pass around a card for each of their teammates to write something on.  I also wrote a card for each of the captains, hoping to give them some encouragement as they navigate the challenges ahead.  I was a little unsure of how the players took to the idea, but encouraged them to keep their cards with them this year.

Today I received a collection of index cards from the EZs telling me what they learned from the clinic and what they valued about me.

Included were a sketch of what appears to be a frog catching a disc with its tongue, a player giving me her Twitter handle, a number of smiley faces, and a lot of incredibly encouraging statements.  I don't want to share too much of what's on these, but here is one of the best summary sentences from one of the rookies on the team:

"Thank you for having us do the compliment cards- reading mine was deeply heartwarming and encouraging.  Thanks to you, our team is better in skill & closer in spirit."

Thanks for the incredible gift, EZs.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a group of players take a lesson like this to heart.  Throw lots, work hard, and love each other well.  I am your biggest fan.

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