Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Team Building Activity: One Team, One Book

One team building activity I still want to try is "One Book, One Team." Pray and Practice with Purpose: A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes offers context for why and steps for how a coach can successfully lead and read a book with the team. I decided I would revisit this topic now, for a couple of reasons. One, I have a gem of a recommendation and two it's a timely one. High school athletics is in a time of transition from fall to winter sports. In Northern California, this means girls' golf, field hockey, water polo, football and cross country are in post-season play while basketball, wrestling, and soccer have completed pre-season prep. Their tryouts are underway, teams are being formed, captains will be chosen and goals shall be defined. I sincerely believe a book like Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously You by two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Julie Foudy can serve as an outstanding resource for all girls' sports, and in particular girls' soccer teams.
In Chapter 4: "Practice with Purpose," I wrote,
Eleanor Roosevelt once said,  “Great mind discuss ideas, average minds events, and small minds discuss people.”  
One goal I have for my students is to get them to regularly, willingly and naturally discuss ideas. In the classroom that’s easy, but outside of structured class time, it can be a challenge.  
As a coach, I am afforded with a lot of structured and unstructured time with my athletes. That dynamic is a blessing, as I really get to know my team. The bus rides and long runs have yielded some memorable, fun and challenging conversations. Many are just about food, clothing, and music. However, I have also wondered in that time how to get my athletes to discuss ideas. “One Team, One Book” is one answer. 
The program began in 1998 when Seattle public librarian Nancy Pearl asked the question “What if all of Seattle read the same book?” From her dream, the “One City, One Book” campaign was born. It aims to build a community and foster literacy through a shared reading experience. Today, many schools have followed suit with “One Campus, One Book.” 
As a coach, I started to wonder how a similar program could benefit and shape my team. As a religious studies teacher and a sports fan, I thought How might our athletic programs be different if we used a common resource to form the mind as it relates to sports? The school principal has said to me that he believes “athletics is the seventh period of the day.” We commit a lot of time and resources to form our athletes physically and today we offer more ways to enhance mental preparation. But what are we using to share the heart, the spirit and the intellect—the mind—when it comes to sports? "One Team, One Book” is an answer. 
Finishing a book is a great feeling. It’s an accomplishment. It’s also a task that many student-athletes may be reluctant to take on in addition to their required course load. But the right book in the right context can be transformative. 
And I think it’s important to remind our student-athletes that reading is a vital discipline. In the same way, they are prepared for their sport due to regular practice, they are primed for reading (whether they know it or not). Participating in "One Team, One Book" can be a spiritual, social and academic experience that shapes a season and a team in new and exciting ways. That’s what sharing ideas can do! 
If a book is introduced as an expectation and featured as part of the culture, the likelihood of success is much greater. That actually might be the first key to success, however, in my own book, I list that item as what this blog posting offers. I wrote:
Choosing the right book is essential, & so is explaining why you will be reading it.
  • Ideally the book that you read will be developmentally appropriate and interesting to a range of ages (for example, you may have freshmen and sophomores on the same team). 
Tomorrow's posting will focus in on why Foudy's work is a worthy choice, a recipe for success, and the key to unlocking this new adventure. I hope completing "One Team, One Book" will be one of the first goals you and your team reach this season. Good luck!

Photo Credits
One Team, One Goal
One Team, One Book

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