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January 5, 2016

Be the Best Teammate You Can Be

Be the Best Teammate You Can Be

Tuesdays are the day of the week where I reflect upon or find a story about what it means to be a great teammate, co-worker, partner, supporter of someone else who is putting it all out there. Over the holiday break, I was talking to Sophie Gershon, a freshman post player at MIT, about how tough it is to reconcile in your mind wanting to get on the floor and knowing what it means to be a good teammate who is supportive of her friends and teammates even when you are clapping from the bench. We all know that when someone in front of you is not doing the job, it opens up a greater opportunity. We decided that maybe the best approach this conflict is to not watch the game and wait for the player in her spot to make a mistake, but to instead control what we can by watching her opponent’s every move. When Sophie goes in, together, she, along with her teammate (friend), can best tackle the task at hand.


In hoops, it’s tough to only be able to play five players at once (unlike football or baseball or soccer). As a coach, I can’t you how many times I look at the bench and think, “I’m sorry I can’t get you all in evenly.” I suggested that Sophie listen to my podcast of the month with Anita Kaplan Fiedel. One of the most revealing quotes Anita gave me when asked about her best moment as a former national champion didn’t involve a game-winning shot or reflections of what it felt like to climb the ladder and cut down the national championship net.


During our podcast, when I asked Anita her favorite moment, she said:


“Junior year we had a game against Colorado. My whole career Tara [her coach] was always trying to get me to go around people—put the ball on the floor go around them. And I just did this move that she was trying to get me to do forever. And when I did it, I just felt the pride of my teammates. They really were happy. I don’t mean to sound selfish but they were so proud—so happy. I will always remember that moment. There was nothing better than to see my whole bench just get up and cheer. They felt the same about me that I did about them. And I would’ve done the same for them.”


Revel in watching the spotlight shine on someone else who has put in the sweat on the court, at work, in life. Believe in them. Root for them.


When it’s your turn, the moment will feel that much richer.


Listen to the full podcast on what it took for Anita Kaplan Fiedel, who was a 6’4” eighth grade girl who decided that she not only was going to be a basketball player, but one who would play the highest level and for one of the greatest and most demanding coaches in the business.