There is no question that leading other people is not easy. Whether it means taking charge in a group project for school, putting together a fundraiser or a volunteer event, or even coordinating social plans on a Friday night, it can be at times difficult and time-consuming to try to get people to listen to you and work together to benefit the group as a whole.
This being said, for all the trials and tribulations that one might have to go through in a leadership position, there are usually many benefits as well. This is certainly the case in high school sports. Becoming a team captain for your high school sports team can be a fulfilling experience that offers many professional and personal benefits. Read on to find out more about how you can set a model for leadership as a sports captain.
Introduction to Leadership in Sports
Every sport is different in the amount of teamwork it requires, but even more individual sports teams (like wrestling and tennis) train together and have a certain team dynamic. Whether it is an individualized or a team sport, all sports can benefit from having a student leader, and so high school sports teams usually have a student captain.
Many high school sports teams have a captain in addition to a professional coach because student athletes might have a better rapport with their teammates than an adult coach. Although a coach might be able to relate to students more than a teacher or another authority figure, there is no question that student captains will obviously have more common ground with other students.
For students who are chosen to be captains, taking on a leadership position can also be helpful for college applications—admissions committees want to see students who are able to take on responsibility and work well with others. For more information about taking on leadership roles, check out this CollegeVine blog post.
Becoming Captain of Your Sports Team
Typically, the process of becoming captain of your high school sports team will vary from school to school. Usually, the process will depend upon some combination of the opinion of your peers and the opinion of your coaches. For example, the team might have a vote to determine candidates, and the coach might make the final designation. For clarification of your specific school and team’s procedures, you should ask your coach.
If you’re seeking out a leadership position on your team, it is in your best interest to make sure you are well-respected and well-liked by your team members. Show up to events on time and make an effort to engage with all members of the team (not just the members who might happen to be your friends). Offer to help others on your team out, and be sure that you’re not a show-off or a ball hog.
You should also make sure that you are an experienced and solid performer in your sport—although this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be the very top player on the team.
In addition, it will be helpful if you display dedication and visibly work hard towards team goals. If the team is looking to improve its strategy, you should be helping to make these changes. If there are conflicts within your team that need to get resolved, get involved and help your team members talk it out. You should also be trustworthy and work well with your coach—if you do end up becoming captain, you’ll be working hard alongside him or her, so you want to demonstrate that you can handle the responsibility and helpful to both your team members and your coach.
This section features six essays written by New York City high school students, who served as Youth Leaders at their schools during the 2013-2014 school year providing college planning support to other students at their schools. The following is background information about the Youth Leadership for College Access program that organized these Youth Leaders to take on the inequities of college counseling in urban schools.
College Access: Research & Action (CARA), an organization established to create post-secondary pathways for high school students, was co-founded by Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet, both alumni of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Urban Education doctoral program (2007). Its programs confront the gap in post-secondary guidance counseling faced by first-generation to college students by transforming the cultures of educational institutions. CARA trains a wide range of people within communities to support all students to go to and through college. It provides curricula to help young people build knowledge about college, strengthen navigational skills, and develop multi-cultural college-going identities.
CARA has developed a model of Youth Leadership for College Access and Success and has several different programs using peer-to-peer or near-to-peer approaches that train high school and college students to work within their communities to support their peers to and through college. Operating on the evidence-based belief that high school and college students should be seen as valuable resources to fill the “guidance gap” that exists for first-generation college students within both secondary and post-secondary institutions, CARA finds that young people have the power to reach their peers in ways that adults often cannot.
CARA’s Youth Leadership for College Access program (to be renamed Right to College) grew out of an organizing effort in 2005, spearheaded by the Urban Youth Collaborative, to provide students in New York City public schools with the supports they needed to define and realize their college aspirations. The first two sites were launched on the Bushwick and Franklin K. Lane campuses in 2007 with 8 Youth Leaders, working with Make the Road NY and Cypress Hills LDC, respectively. The movement has since grown to 20 schools and 7 community-based organizations, with over 70 Youth Leaders. It has also served as a catalyst for CARA’s College Bridge and Strive for Success programs, which train college students to support their peers through college access, matriculation, and persistence.
The Youth Leaders you’ll hear from in this issue of TRAUE are juniors and seniors in high school who are positioned to engage with and support their peers through the post-secondary planning process. They do this by: facilitating workshops, organizing college planning events, supporting students one-on-one through their college search, application, and financial aid process, and promoting a strong college-going culture in their institutions. Through comprehensive training and support, Youth Leaders develop a range of skills and content knowledge to make college access possible for a wider circle of students. Youth Leaders also simultaneously improve their own educational and social outcomes.
The essays in this issue were written by the following CARA Youth Leaders:
Angela Omongos is currently a senior at Flushing High School. She will a will attend the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education next year.
Michel Gomes is currently a senior at Flushing International High School. She will attend York College next year.
Keith Robertson graduated from Academy of Innovative Technology in the Franklin K. Lane Campus. He is currently a first-year college student attending SUNY Canton
Alexus Bright graduated from Central Park East High School. She is currently attending the City College of New York.
Maria Santana is a graduate of the High School for Fashion Industries. She is currently attending the City College of New York.
Kristina Erskine is a graduate of Academy for Environmental Leadership on the Bushwick Campus. She is currently attending Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.