The week 10 leadership trait in our 14-week series A Leader in Every Locker is Unselfishness.
Unselfishness is being willing to give your time and effort for others; of not putting your own interests first. Looking out for the needs of teammates and the good of the team before one’s self is the essence of leadership.
Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage… and we amongst it are only players with many parts…” On a team of eleven interdependent student athletes, each of us has a part to play, and some are more visible than others.
Unselfishness should be the number one trait listed in the job description for offensive linemen, the position group nearest and dearest to my heart. They relentlessly run block for their backs and pass block for their quarterback despite the often absence of recognition for their efforts. Their reward comes with the success of others and the team. As a coach I have to ask players to find and fill roles best suited to the team’s benefit.
It’s natural for any athlete to want to contribute to the team. For many high school football players who have grown up with parents, friends, and others cheering for those who make a big run, or catch a clutch pass, it’s a dream to finally land a starting job and think about being the target of all those cheers, all that excitement, and to feel the satisfaction of a tangible contribution to victory.
After my youngest son, Trey, earned the starting position at Split End in his Junior season, we had a very frank conversation. In our offensive scheme, and with a very talented quarterback and our two leading receivers returning, I informed Trey that he was not going to be targeted. (He would not likely be thrown to often). The team needed him to be a decoy who could take the top off the defense and clear zones for the other two receivers. I told him that he would run Fades and Posts all game (essentially asking him to run a 30-40 yard sprint on nearly every play with little hope of catching a ball) and if, and only if, the defense dropped coverage would he get the ball thrown his way. He simply replied, “I can do that.”
His act of unselfishness helped our QB to be awarded Gatorade Player of the Year, our two receivers to compile over 1,000 yards each, and our team to advance to the state semifinals. His personal reward came halfway through the season in game 5 on the road when a Free Safety from Brattleboro came down to jump a Dig route leaving Trey one-on-one with the Corner. The result was a 40 yard touchdown reception in the back of the endzone.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!