Part of a bigger team: individual sports


Rae Gray

TAKING IT TO THE WALL: Gasping for air, junior William Noser sprints to the wall on his 50 yard freestyle. Noser clocked in at the end of the race with a 26.6 second time, placing fourth in his heat. “The 50 yard freestyle is one of my favorite events to swim because its super fast paced and it is just a full on sprint,” Noser said. “When you get to the wall and you’re looking up at the time board all of the hard work really pays off. I especially love swimming it at the Aggie Land meet because the pool is really nice.”

Rae Gray, Photo Editor

How athletes in individual sports still act as a team despite competing on their own

It’s six in the morning, the swim team is huddled in their layers of sweat pants and jackets as they dread the prospect of getting into the outdoor pool and braving the thirty-three degree weather together. Despite competing individually, athletes on wrestling, swimming, and tennis teams still act and participate as a team and forge strong bonds with each other.

For swimmers, those strong bonds are formed by what they have to go through together as a team to be in their best shape possible. The swim team has to practice at an outdoor pool every morning at 6:30, and practice isn’t just canceled if its cold, it has to be below 32 degrees outside or extreme conditions before coach will call it.

“That first jump into the water is always the hardest thing to do,” Junior member of the swim team Jack Lance said. “It’s just really bonding thing knowing that everyone else has to go through that and they’re all committed to the same sport that I am, and that we are all dedicated enough to do that together.”

The swim team isn’t the only team though that forges bonds through their extreme dedication to their sport, wrestlers also have a high level of commitment when it comes to practices and weight cutting. Wrestlers are put in categories based on their weight, and the level of dedication that it takes to constantly monitor their weight takes a team of support.

“The bonds that we form together as a team through practices and tournaments are important because it keeps us on weight and accountable for each other,” senior Anthony Salvo said.

Unity through intensive practices and suffering through cold waters isn’t the only way that teams in individual sports connect though. They make sure to have activities outside of school and at their competitions that further their ability to rely on one another and compete as a team.

“One of my favorite team activities is the Red and Black meet,” junior Brooke Simpson said. “It’s a fun meet that really brings the team together, especially the new swimmers of the year. It’s also a fun time to show off your best events and compete in fun relays like the t-shirt relay and the reverse swimming relay. Everyone gets really competitive, but no matter the outcome we still have fun.”

A big part of creating a team environment that is cooperative comes from the coaches and how they build up their team.

“The team mentality starts in practice with swimming,” swimming coach Peyton Bobo said. “The athletes become invested in the success of their peers because they have been working hard towards the same goal.”

Coaches also work hard to make sure that their team is able to rely on each other and work together. Tennis coach, James Dammann works hard to make sure that his team are supportive of each other and cooperate to work as a team.

“Tennis is viewed as an individual sport,” Dammann said. “Our team wins or loses are based on a collective team effort. Our Team dynamic is solid, we pride ourselves on winning or losing with class.  We see many other school’s players behaving in a manner that is unacceptable, unsportsmanlike, and down right embarrassing.  We don’t do that.  Our players are a pretty close group. That bond develops over years of competing together.”

While the coaches making sure that there is a supportive environment on their teams, the players make sure to always be there for each other and cheer each other on.

“Tennis, while it is an individual sport we do make a big effort to not isolate the players from each other,” senior Carlos Canepa said. “We always make an effort to cheer each other on and every one not playing goes to support the people who are. So whenever we aren’t on court competing we  reach out and support our teammates to make it feel like we’re all there together on the court.”

Team bonding goes beyond just meets and competing though. A byproduct of spending countless hours with the same group of people and getting up together early in the morning and staying up late at night at competitions is an endless stream of fond memories.

“One of my favorite memories with my team is during our Round Rock swim meet last year,” Lance said. “It started to pour outside, and all of our stuff was getting soaked. It was super hectic and crazy at the time. People were leaving stuff everywhere. We got split up into two different buses, and some of us were stuck soaking wet in the bus driving back to Bowie. What makes this a fun moment was just knowing that we all suffered through it together. That really created a sense of unity with us as a team. And it was a lot more fun than you’d expect, trying to sprint to the buses.”