Recently, I began recruiting student-athletes from area schools to appear in a WON80 video based on the short story "Dear Fans". An open invitation was sent out via Facebook gauging the interest of kids from the conference my school is in. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of thoughtful responses I received, but one in particular really moved me. In part she stated, "I don’t have a big name in the sport, but I am very passionate about the sport and love the game. Thank you for your consideration."
While I am thrilled that she is a well adjusted team player in love with the game she plays, her message made me think about how many kids lose their passion because they don't have a "big name" in the sport and haven't embraced the role they do play. Research shows that this happens more than we would care to think about. Most student-athletes dream of being the star and if/when it doesn't happen for them, it can be a huge letdown - so huge that they may walk away from the sport.
As coaches, parents, an teammates, we have the ability to help prevent this from occurring by valuing ALL contributions. To value something means to appreciate it. Great squads are comprised of individuals who are more concerned with the success of the team than they are with individual accolades. Rarely does this happen without guidance from many people along the way. Create a culture that values character over outcome. Celebrate all the components that make your sport and your team special. Superstars are created by those they practices against, by those who create their opportunities, and by those who support them when the lights aren't shining down. Create a championship team, an incredible athletic experience, and a lifetime of positive memories by creating value.