What being a good teammate means

Not sure what got me thinking about this yesterday, but I think it’s a good story and worth telling. It’s about a young lady who really understood the concept of being a teammate, and no doubt still does.

This happened a couple of years ago. About halfway through her sophomore season, my daughter was moved from JV to varsity. She’s actually resisted moving up because she loves pitching. She was pitching nearly every game at JV, but knew there was no way she’d pitch on varsity because they already had a #1 pitcher, and she was a stud. The girl had been pitching varsity since her freshman year. She was now a senior and well-established in our area, which plays a pretty good caliber of high school softball.

I hadn’t seen much of her since she was younger, when she played for a team that was between the ages of my two daughters. She was very good even back then. So I have to admit, I was a bit suspicious of what she’d be like on the high school team. I have seen and heard stories about kids, especially pitchers, who gain that kind of recognition and turn into the typical “Princess in the Circle.” They tend to act like they’re God’s gift to softball, and tend to pout when they aren’t in the spotlight.

What I saw in action, though, was the polar opposite. This girl was the biggest booster of her teammates, always there with a kind word or a pat on the back for the others. She was also the consumate team player, which I saw one day in particular.

Our high school team was playing one of the weak sisters in the area, so she was not pitching that game. As I recall they had her DH for a while, but even that stopped when we built a big lead. Now, the typical Princess might have sulked in dugout at not getting the opportunity to pad her already-impressive stats. Even a non-Princess stud might’ve just hung out in the dugout, not doing much. Instead, this girl was being a good teammate, cheering actively for the others and shouting out encouragement.

More interesting to me, though, was that she was playing bat girl. After a hitter would get on base, she’d go onto the field, retrieve the bat, and bring it back into the dugout. Not because anyone told her to, but because it needed to be done. She’d also go to the outfield to warm up the outfielder closest to the dugout. Basically, she did the kind of jobs you would expect a non-starter to do, not a stud.

The girl’s name is Lauren Ott, and she went on to play at Butler University. To me, she epitomizes the team player — the kind who thinks no job is too small or unimportant for her to do.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on February 26, 2009, in General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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