Team Love is in the Air This Valentine’s Day
The Boys Varsity Squash team is currently having a fantastic season, boasting an impressive 9-2 record.
While the team is made up of a lot of talented individuals, Kit Illick ’21 believes that the team’s success is partially due to strong team chemistry. Tink of team chemistry like a chemical reaction. A group of talented individuals is comparable to different reactants, each with the potential to react, or to win. However, if you combine those talented individuals in the right way, they can reach their full potential.
So how exactly does team chemistry work to make teams better? Owen Lamothe ’22, a member of the Boys Varsity Soccer team, explained, “If a team has chemistry, they will be much more successful than a team with little or no team chemistry. Teams with chemistry communicate easier on the playing field and act as a unit, which gives them a huge advantage in games.” Illick said, “Chemistry benefits team success because when teammates can agree and cooperate there are fewer problems.”
In team sports, this reasoning applies perfectly well but in individual sports, such as squash or cross country, team chemistry works in different ways. Hannah Szabo ’21 describes the team dynamic in individual sports: “Even in sports where you place individually rather than a team, the team dynamic is helpful in motivating everyone to try their best.” Sana Patel ’19 believes “being collaborative and understand where you are as a team and as an individual helps you maximize your strengths.” Whether in team or individual sports, team chemistry always helps to build a better team.
An important aspect of team chemistry is how it is built. Burton explained, “Chemistry is not something you can achieve over night, you have to slowly build it brick by brick.” Understanding how to achieve helpful team chemistry is vital to placing said bricks, one by one. Actions big and small help teams to do so, as described by Dove: “Chemistry comes from a collective mindset, which the Hopkins Baseball Team exemplifies. Whether it be pushing each other to get in the weight room, emphasizing accountability during practices, or taking team trips to Chipotle, the baseball team has found success through the development of team chemistry.”
Oftentimes, team chemistry is developed in non-conventional ways. Izzy Lopez-Kalapir, ’20, recalled a fun night with the Girls Varsity Lacrosse team on their Florida spring break trip: “Last year for lacrosse we had the opportunity to stay at Disney in Florida and take part in the spring training session. We were on this special dining plan so each of us had a meal card that allotted us three meals and five snacks a day, and if you didn’t use them all, they didn’t expire. It was our last night there and [Coach] Mueller told us how many snacks and meals we had left on our cards and I remember I had at least 20 left. The entire team completely raided the market at our resort and we all had huge plastic bags full of applesauce and chips and candy. I just remember we were all awake all night laughing and eating and later on I actually ended up eating so much microwave mac and cheese that I vomited. It kind of sucked in the moment, but it’s absolutely hilarious looking back at it. We were definitely closer after that.”
Coach Joe Addison of the Boys Varsity Soccer team remembered building chemistry while teaching and coaching in Turkey: “When I lived in Turkey, I played for the soccer team at the university where I worked. We had great chemistry, I think. Some of it was automatic: we all lived on campus and we all were there for education. Tat automatically stripped the group of a lot of ego. But everyone on the team prioritized welcoming international players into the fold. We taught each other languages and shared what we were learning in our departments. Tat built respect and trust, and we went onto the field every day caring deeply about working hard for each other.”
The rewards of good team chemistry were demonstrated this fall with the Boys Varsity Soccer team. Lamothe, a goalie for the team, recalled the season: “This fall, on the soccer team, I felt the team as a whole had great chemistry which led us to a winning record, a regular season championship, and a tournament championship.” Patel goes into greater detail, explaining her view of the season from a managerial point of view: “I think my favorite thing about managing soccer this year was the chemistry that the team had. You could see how much people appreciated each on and off the field. Obviously there was a lot of talent on the team, but I would definitely argue that the winning titles can be partially credited to the bonds between the players; they clearly cared about growing as a team.” Burton also believes that chemistry helps win games, stating, “If you have chemistry, you win games. It’s as simple as that.”
While chemistry does help to win games, Fiona O’Brien ’21 keeps in sight what is really important about team sports, especially at the high school level: “Whether we win or lose, we know we’re in it together and support each other no matter what.”