By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
An open letter for all high school student-athletes to consider for the start of the 2023-24 athletic season:
The power of positivity is real.
So much so that it can oftentimes trump talent.
A team that plays together, can accomplish more than a segmented team of individual talent.
We have all seen the player that has all the talent, but is not coachable. The player that has all the potential, but cannot co-exist with their teammates.
On the other side, we have all seen the player that has marginal skills, but listens to coaching, applies it on the field and closes the talent gap simply by fitting in instead of fitting out.
The player that starts a season looking unsettled, finds confidence through continuous hard work and a little bit of encouragement and support from their teammates and coaches.
Two totally different perspectives, but both can be equally contagious to your teammates, coaching staff, present team culture and the future of the program.
And to think, you thought your impact was only for your four short high-school years.
Even as a high school student-athlete, you walk into a legacy that was created before you. And you will also leave one for the classes that come in behind you.
The legacy won’t simply be about winning or losing, but how you got there, too.
So how do you successfully find your voice?
It starts by making a daily pledge to be part of something special.
Positivity and hard work are characteristics that are best when they are a full-time commitment.
Not every person or player is going to be wired the same way.
Nor should they be.
Everyone brings something unique to the team both in skill and personality.
Through sincere leadership, the collection of those individual personalities can be blended into something bigger than any one player could achieve alone.
Here is how you can get there.
Arrive at practice with energy. Be the reason why someone’s bad day turns into a good one.
Greet teammates and coaches. Be the player people are excited to see.
Don’t be afraid of how some of the players outside of your friend circle will react to your positivity. Humility is a characteristic more of us need to embrace.
Play with love and show love. Showing your teammates that you genuinely care about them is one of the quickest ways to build trust.
Encourage teammates during bad times or mistakes. Everybody is human, and we all need each other.
Celebrate accomplishments of all sizes. What could be your small accomplishment is another player’s big accomplishment. Always remember that.
Stay humble no matter what you have already accomplished. Someone, somewhere has accomplished more. Keep working hard and find a new finish line to chase. When the role players work hard, it forces the standout players to work hard. When the standout players work hard, it forces everyone else to keep up. It is a healthy cycle.
Learn how to emotionally recycle. Even the most optimistic person will inevitably find frustration. Find a way to recycle the aggravation. Use it as a tool to motivate yourself.
Communicate. A lot.
To your teammates on the field. To your teammates off the field.
To your coaches when you see something that could help the team. To your coaches when you have a question or want clarification.
To your parents after long practices. Even when you don’t feel like talking. To your parents after a tough loss and you really don’t feel like talking.
There are all kinds of pitfalls to navigate along the way, but floating above the negativity will suddenly place yourself in an environment of unity.
Being the optimistic one will become easier.
The path to achieving the unbelievable will become more clear.
Failure will become surprising because positive results will be more regular.
This is how you build a team.
This is how you cast a shadow on complaining, resentment, selfishness, jealousy, pessimism.
The power of positivity is real.
Let it be your reality.