Branching out

The upperclassmen on a team are like the roots of a tree.

They keep the team grounded and they provide a base for growth.

While it may seem odd to put the upperclassmen at the bottom of a metaphor, the base should be the strongest part.

While talking to Haley Hodges, an upperclassman on the softball team, she showed her own leadership abilities.

She mentioned finding confidence and working through issues even when a game isn’t going exactly the way she wants it to.

That mindset comes with experience. That mindset is simply maturity.

As a junior, Hodges still showed a lot of respect toward the seniors for their role on the team. It is up to the leaders on the team to keep the group steady. They know what to do when struggles arise. They have been through it.

Sometimes there are no seniors available to lead a team, but if there are, it often falls to them by default.

“They have played a lot of games and their leadership is a key part of this team,” Hodges said. “We all look up to them and look to them to see what to do.”

As the regular season comes to an end for most spring season sports, it’s time to look forward.

The seniors maintain a strong base, but the tree only grows strong branches and limbs if the underclassmen can move into those leadership positions.

It’s important to not wait until the seniors are gone to think about who is stepping into leadership roles and who has the ability to take the team in a winning direction for years to come.

The leadership is more than talent in their position and it’s more than an understanding of the game. Each of those aspects are important on their own, and when you bring them together, they are even stronger. But it takes maturity and understanding to lead.

Teaching the other players that confidence can be found even in the struggles of a game and bringing the wisdom only experience can create are both major undertakings for a team leader.

Right now, all the teams, whether in season or not, should be looking forward in terms of leadership. Teams need to know which positions will take on leadership roles and have them take over little by little as the season winds down.

When one class leaves, another has to prepare to step up.

The roots of a tree keep it alive, but the branches are where the fruit can grow.