Teamwork and Teammate

The epitome of teamwork is when we are obsessed with making our teammates successful.
— Larry Hunt

The compound word teammate forms one of the most powerful words in sports.  The word team itself implies a group of individuals who work together for a common cause.  Likewise, the word mate adds a collective, cohesive element.  When a player says someone is a "teammate of mine," he identifies a person with whom he works closely and confidently.

Teamwork and teammate are inseparable.  Teamwork requires players who truly want to be teammates!  If you are obsessed with yourself, your brand, your career, or your personal stats, you are not a teammate, and the team on which you play will certainly struggle with teamwork.  And it won't be because everyone around you is inferior; rather, it will be because of YOU.  Put the brand on hold and strive to make everyone around you better!  Be a true teammate - and reap the benefits of watching everyone else around you thrive!  You will be a better person and a better player. 

- by Larry Hunt

Champions Today

This past season, our team rallied around the phrase, Champions Today.  We found ourselves explaining its meaning to people who wondered about our purpose, and while many cynical people questioned our motives, we were given the opportunity to share our intention behind it. 

Champions and Championships are two totally different ideas; words that bring a vast accumulation of meaning.  For example, to be a champion means to fight for something, or to defend something that is important to you.  It implies that there is a process that needs to take place.  Championships, on the other hand, by definition give a distinction of completion.  The journey is already completed and achievement is already obtained.  

Champions Today by no means expresses that we have reached a premature state of success.  However, it does suggest the significance of the journey and the importance of our habits.  It indicates the influence that our present actions will have on our future achievement.  We can't assume that success will automatically appear to us just because we play the game.  We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard that focuses on the here and now.  Every decision, every habit we determine is our path that will ultimately lead us to our destination.  

Our program as a whole embraced this idea of being Champions Today and in turn, experienced positive results. Daily tasks such as showing up on time or serving a classmate became habits that allowed us to reach our goal of being champions at that very moment.  As our habits became consistent, there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that propelled us to the next level.  While we never perfected anything, we did become better men and better teammates.  Collective responsibility within our program became one of our most treasured core values because we saw how it allowed everyone to make each other better.  

As we continue our journey through the process we keep encouraging one another to build championship habits.  Habits that will ignite a passion inside of us to be our best.  Habits that will develop us into men of integrity.  Habits that will put aside our selfishness and humbly lift other people up.  And habits that will allow our team to trust each other.  Being a Champion Today is more than showing up and winning a trophy.  It's all about deciding what kind of person you want to become and taking the necessary steps to get there.  No one said it would be easy, but I promise you that it will be worth it!

NASA On Leadership

This week, our program at Bob Jones University had the privilege to have Daryl Woods speak to our team on leadership.  Some of you may be familiar with him if you read Jay Bilas' book, Toughness.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Daryl is the Technical Assistant at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center.  He has a vast knowledge of strategic planning and project management in the world of engineering, and truly is a "rocket scientist."  In his book, Toughness, Jay Bilas shares the story about how he met Daryl and drops a great leadership quote on us that says,

Responsible to the element, accountable to the mission.
— Daryl Woods


During his talk with our team, Daryl explained to us how this mindset was an integral part to their success.  He told us that he was given the task to unite two separate teams together, one of which was plagued with low morale due to a recent project being cancelled.  Throughout this journey he shared how each member of this team was responsible for various elements, or parts of the space shuttle.  Each of these elements plays an important role in the overall performance of a successful flight.  Obviously, each responsible party was extremely dedicated to performing their specific role to a high level, but in the meantime other elements were struggling with various circumstances.  


As circumstances came up, members of one element began to contribute to other elements that needed help, whether it was financially or with personnel.  As this team began to help one another, it became very clear that the mission was the most important thing on their minds.  They began to understand that each element was crucial in the overall success of the mission and while they were responsible for their element, it was more valuable to be accountable to the mission.  This culture brought life to its members and they flourished because of a mindset that prioritized the team over any individual.  

Here are a couple tweets from our discussion with Daryl:


As we apply this leadership lesson to our basketball program, we see continual growth and love for each other.  When someone is having a rough day performing their role it is necessary that they find a way to stay responsible to their task, but it is also the duty of his teammates to pick him up and stay accountable to the team.  We can exercise this mindset in many aspects of our program, both on and off the court.  When this mindset is owned by every member we begin to see results that are truly remarkable.  No matter what is going on within your team, whether its in sports, business, or church, make sure that every member stays responsible to the element and accountable to the mission!  

Connecting With Players

The difference between a pest and a guest is an invitation.
— Joshua Medcalf

My desire as a coach is to connect with our players and build genuine, lasting relationships. I want to be a trustworthy mentor so that when something happens in their life and they need advice, I can be counted on.  


Our job as coaches is to push players to become better both on and off the court.  Sometimes this requires us to say things to our players that they don't want to hear.  Although we  constantly encourage and applaud our players successes, we also criticize and point out their flaws quite a bit, too.  And which one do you think most players dwell on and remember?  

Well, that depends.

Connect before you direct.
— Jamie Gilbert

As coaches, we need to pour our hearts into our players.  We need to invite them into our lives and make an effort to be transparent with them.  We need to be willing to share our experiences because we have been there too.  It is foolish of us to expect our players to feel a connection with us if the only interaction we have with them is on the court or during required team meetings.  There needs to be more.  We need to get into their world and be vulnerable.  They are going through a lot and it is our responsibility to be there for them.  We are only able to do that when we establish a sincere connection with them as people.  

I'm convinced that if I can authentically connect with our players off the court, they will respect me and listen to me on the court.  Now, the applause and encouragement means so much more to them and they know that when I criticize and correct, I am doing it because I believe in them.  


No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Bootcamp Week

It’s a week that requires our players to grow as leaders and develop character. A championship mentality needs to be established by the end of this week.
— Andrew Wingreen (@CoachWingreen)

We officially begin every season with a week of bootcamp.  This is a week of grueling workouts that not only challenge our players physically, but more-so it challenges them mentally.  We want to finish the duration with a better focus and more awareness in the face of fatigue and adversity.  Most guys come into this week ready to show the coaches and their teammates how prepared they are physically, but they soon realize that they can't do it alone.


By the end of this week something amazing happens.  Leaders step up and their teammates follow.  They slowly begin to realize that the pain their bodies feel is actually the fuel that is bringing them closer together as a group.  They can no longer rely on themselves and they must continue to strengthen their relationships with their teammates.  The more they struggle, the more they cry, and the more they overcome - the more they become a family.  

As freshman, they simply try to survive. As seniors, they make sure everyone else survives.
— Tony Miller (@tonywmiller)

During the season when challenges arise and adversity strikes, the week of bootcamp will be in the forefront of our minds.  We will remember the lessons we learned and the importance of relying on each other for strength.  There will come a time when someone wants to throw in the towel, but his teammate won't let him.  We've been through too much together to give up.  Teams come and go, but families are forever.


Follow our men's basketball program on Instagram and Twitter @BJUBruinsMBB.

More Than A Team



That all sounds good on paper and when we talk about it, but it’s not so easy to actually do.  Families have unique qualities that bond them together and there is an immeasurable amount of trust among them.  Each person needs to be willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the overall health of the team.


This may seem like an easy one.  Our teams spend every day together at practice, workouts, and on the bus to games.  But there is a big difference between “being with each other” and “investing in each other.”  There needs to come a time when each person realizes their role in the investment.  We can’t be halfhearted if we want to fulfill our role in the family.  We need to be all in.  Our time with each other can’t be out of requirement, but instead it needs to be because we truly want to be there for our teammate.  If we want to see our teams become family then we need to cherish our inner circle and put them before ourselves.  


Every family talks about hard things.  Families aren’t afraid to confront one another, but they do it in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  There is no family that is perfect and we need to understand that we are always under construction.  Our growth from a team to a family is an ongoing project and open communication with each other will allow this growth to occur.  Family member’s mistakes need to be held accountable and everyone involved needs to be willing to take criticism.  When we confront each other out of love and necessity, we are showing humility and care for our family.  Everyone needs to be conscious of when and where communication takes place as well.  Families need to keep communication within the circles of the group and can't spread personal information to those not associated with the team.  Open communication can only occur when there is an established trust with everyone.


Encouragement is essential to any family.  The more we pick each other up the more likely we are to have a positive impact on everyone.  Not only does encouragement boost our morale, but it also gives everyone a sense of security knowing that we can trust one another.  Not everyone on your team will have the same interests, background, or dreams.  In many cases these differences will cause friction, but in families those differences are nurtured and accepted.  We always have each other’s back.  When one or two guys decide they want to take it easy on a certain task, the rest of the family needs to encourage a better mindset and work ethic from them.  When each person does their job, the overall success of the team will increase.  


What family doesn’t have traditions?  It’s a common theme that is timeless for families and honored without question.  Traditions are celebrated by those who are part of the family and it really doesn’t matter what other people think.  We can’t be afraid to be silly and have fun with this because it’s what makes families special.  Find things that you can celebrate together and is common only to the members of your family.

Teams will play together and win some games, but they never become special without being a family.

Families laugh and families cry, but they are never broken and will always be there for each other.  If we want our program to be a family then we need to be willing to do things that make families great.  Trust each other, love each other, and make other's a priority in your locker room.  It’s not always convenient and it’s not always natural, but it’s always worth it.

3 W's of Relationships

In most cases, players have to WALK together and WORK together before they can WIN together.

WALKING relationship - Initiate a walking relationship with your teammates.

This is generally done off the court. What do you know about your teammates? Their families? Their likes and dislikes? Their struggles? The benefits of walking with your teammates include the biblical admonition of "bearing one another's burdens." For you to know how to encourage your teammates, you need to walk with them. Criticism requires no relationship with the one you are targeting, but if you walk with someone, you will be inclined to encourage him rather than criticize him. In addition, those who walk with someone else will also be inclined to pray for him.

WORKING relationship - Cultivate a working relationship with your teammates.

A walking relationship with teammates facilitates a working relationship with them. This dynamic generally happens in practices, in the weight room, on the track, and wherever else you work together. How much more inclined are we to work hard with our teammates when we first walk with them? Working together builds unity, establishes trust, and defers our own interests to those of the successes of our team. Do you like to go to work? If you say "yes," you like the players around you and are willing to be patient with their weaknesses and embrace their strengths for the benefit of team success.

WINNING relationship - establish a winning relationship with your teammates.

Contrary to "bottom line" enthusiasts, the scoreboard is not the end-all in athletics. We are obligated in obedience to "run, that we may obtain"[the prize]; however, many "wins" exist apart from the final score.

Team goals that preclude a winning score are often "small wins" that, in time, accumulate and ultimately translate into wins on the scoreboard. These "small wins" share a common characteristic: teammates. A winning relationship with fellow teammates happens because the walking and the working relationships have already been established and are continually being enriched.

Now that we are in the off-season (on-season), individual workouts take center stage. As you hone your skills, eliminate weaknesses, and strengthen your body during these months, consider what steps you will take to walk and work with your teammates. Have you thought about initiating those first two w’s – walking and working - with your teammates? Imagine what could happen if a team was already walking and working together going into next season! “Small wins” would undoubtedly produce wins on the scoreboard. More importantly, the team would be able to fulfill its true mission better than ever before: to use the platform of athletics in ministry opportunities all around us. And it would be a true team effort!